Zac McDorrBesides having a cool name, Marcus Aurelius Hanna is the only man in history to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Gold Lifesaving Medal, which are the two highest awards for bravery in the United States.

Hanna was the grandson of Thomas Hanna, who was the first lighthouse keeper at Boone Island Light in 1812. Marcus’s parents, James and Eliza, were the keepers at Franklin Island Light. Marcus carried on the family tradition and become a keeper himself, but first he served in the military during the Civil War.

After a turn in the Navy, Hanna became a soldier. During the battle of Port Hudson, Union troops were suffering from heat exhaustion and a volunteer was sought to get water from Confederate territory.

Hanna was the only volunteer, and he zig-zagged through the war zone with a dozen canteens around his neck. He returned with the water and only a minor shrapnel wound. For this feat of bravery, Congress awarded him the Medal of Honor in 1895.

After the war, he served as head lighthouse keeper at Pemaquid Light from 1869 to 1873. Using his influence as a fellow Republican and war hero, Hanna petitioned President Grant for a transfer to a more desirable location. He then became the head keeper at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth.

In 1885, the schooner Australia from Boothbay wrecked at Two Lights. The captain was killed, and two sailors were left clinging to the rigging during a Nor’easter. The wind chill was minus 10 degrees, and it was snowing.

Hanna was suffering from a bad cold and the side effects of malaria, but he donned his winter gear and went to the rescue. He braved slippery rocks to cast a lifeline, and saved both sailors, earning himself the Gold Lifesaving Medal.

A Coast Guard ship was named after Marcus Hanna in 1997.