Brian Otto, Chicago "Hometown Hero"

August 3, 2009 With the help of the Chicago Air and Water Show and WBBM Newsradio 780, the Thunderbirds selected Brian as a "Hometown Hero" who has displayed the same effort and sacrifice put forth by America's Airmen every day.

In April 2008, Brian Otto saved a 2 year old boy from drowning in Lake Michigan. The little boy's grandfather had been pushing him in his stroller when a sudden gust of wind blew him into the lake- stroller and all. Brian, a member of the Chicago Fire Department's dive team, jumped from the helicopter into the 42 degree water without hesitation. With great strength, Brian was miraculously able to hoist the child and entire stroller to the surface. After rescuing the boy from the life-threatening water, he handed him to the paramedics who further ensured his safety. Brian humbly gives credit to the dedicated teamwork put forth that day.

The nomination process began on Monday, April 27 and ended Monday, May 11 at noon. In order to be considered a Chicago Hometown Hero, nominees were required to live in Cook County and had to meet specific requirements set by the United States Air Force to be eligible to fly. In order to be nominated, "heroic" efforts had to be described in one hundred words or less and had to be verifiable. Three finalists were chosen and their nominations were sent to the Thunderbirds for the final selection.

The Hometown Hero program is not designed to reward actions but to showcase Chicagoans doing amazing things in their communities, in line with the amazing efforts put forth by America's Airmen everyday. Brian truly embodies a genuine hero within the city of Chicago.

The 51st Annual Chicago Air and Water Show is set for August 15 and 16 along Chicago's lakefront at North Avenue Beach. For more information call (312) 744-3315 or visit and on Facebook.

Copyright © 2023 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.