FOR 53 minutes three Gold Coast men worked to haul their 19-year-old friend's lifeless body off the sea floor off Moreton Island.
Seven times they plunged to depths of up to 30m to bring Sam Brown's body to his family and allow them to properly bury their son.
The actions of the Sam's friends - Chadd Collins, Liam Slack and Kurt Zietlow - that day have been awarded the prestigious Silver Medals by the Royal Humane Society, which has acknowledged acts of bravery for nearly 150 years, and prompted a grieving father to speak publicly about his boy's death for the first time two years on.
"It's recognition and closure for me. I wanted a legacy for my son and these boys need to be recognised."
Mr Brown said he was determined to acknowledge the bravery of Sam's friends after the trio told him what happened that day.
He said they explained in the minutes after Sam blacked out just metres before reaching the surface and sunk the worked out a plan to pull him back
In a matter of minutes the trio worked out a plan to get Sam back - without the help of oxygen tanks.
Mr Brown said Chad took the lung-busting plunge to the sea floor where he unclipped Sam's weight belt and kicked furiously toward the surface with his mate in his hands.
The other two swam down to meet Chad where Sam's body was passed over.
To save energy one pushed the other to the required depth to reach Sam while Chad swam to the surface for air before taking another plunge.
The trio repeated the herculean effort seven times each to get their mate to the surface just as water police arrived.
"When they told me what happened we were all in tears," Mr Brown said.
The co-ordinated effort blew police away so officers encouraged Mr Brown to write to The Royal Humane Society Australasia, which has recognised bravery since the late 1800s.
"Those boys were down in the trenches and they weren't letting him go dead or alive - they had to get his body," he said.
"Since the accident I've spoken to a few families who've gone through the same thing, only they haven't been able to recover the body.
"The sea is ruthless, I'm so lucky that I've been able to bring my boy home and bury him."
Sam was a keen surfer and skateboarder who was "born to swim in the ocean" had been free diving and spearfishing for about 18-months.
While the three men involved were reluctant to speak about the awards, saying it was "what anyone would do", Mr Brown said he would be forever grateful.
"Sam's probably on their shoulders every day of the week, like he is mine," he said.
"I can't thank them enough."
A spokeswoman for the Royal Humane Society said the boys were expected to be awarded their medals at a ceremony in July 2018.
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