Dayton Meadows endured the longest hour of his life on July 23.
One of his six children, Payton, was stranded 10 miles offshore in the Atlantic Ocean near Topsail Beach.
"We were that close to losing my daughter that day," Meadows said. "It will forever be with me."
But Payton, 18, and the four friends she was with, would eventually be rescued by the United States Coast Guard.
To show their appreciation, Meadows and his family, along with some family members from West Virginia and some of Payton's sorority sisters from the University of Mississippi paid a visit to the crew who rescued the quintet from the clutches of near-death.
The group went down to visit the Coast Guard detachment at Wrightsville Beach. They took them breakfast, gave them commemorative coins and more.
The family and friends were the invited to attend the unit's morning meeting and spend time getting to know them.
Meadows said his family is incredibly patriotic -- he was in the United States Marine Corps, as is one of his sons, and he has a daughter in the United States Army. So they drove a three-wheeled vehicle called a "Slingshot" down from West Virginia. It is signed by Medal of Honor recipient Hershel "Woody" Williams.
They then let the man who pulled Payton from the water and the unit's commander sign the vehicle also, and "shellacked" the signatures so they will be preserved.
Then, Meadows said, they got to stand on the two boats that rescued Payton and her friends, Kenneth Freeman, Brooke Neal, and Alex and Patrick Roosen.
It was then that Meadows' emotions caught up to him.
"I started speaking and could hardly get the words out," Meadows said.
As a military man himself, with children in the armed forces, Meadows said he knew the Coast Guard team was simply doing their job when they scooped the five friends out of the water.
But they still deserved recognition, he said.
"There's no doubt they deserve credit," Meadows said. "They do their job, and they don't ask for recognition, but you should've seen the looks on their faces and how appreciative they were."
And just doing their job was no easy feat.
The crew had struck out for Tom Boyette Reef that day, which is 10 to 13 miles off the shore of Topsail Beach, depending on which point of the reef you go to.
When the boat capsized due to a mechanical malfunction, the five of them found themselves stranded in the ocean far away from safety.
Freeman was able to wade over to the boat and work nothing short of a miracle, placing phone calls to 911 and family on land.
The 911 dispatchers relayed the information to the Coast Guard.
And then they waited.
As the minutes turned to hours, they were unsure if they would be rescued.
But then help arrived.
They heard the rumbling of a Coast Guard air plane in the distance.
It passed over them and popped smoke so the boats could find them.
The crew with whom the Meadows family would later spend time visiting then pulled all five of them out of the ocean to safety.
Meadows said his experience waiting to know if his daughter would be rescued or not was the longest hour of his life.
But when she was finally pulled to safety, he was incredibly thankful, and he knew they needed to show appreciation to the detachment.
"Most things happen to your child and you hear about it after the fact," Meadows said. "I got the phone call that they were in the ocean and the waves had them and it was the longest hour of my life, waiting to know if they would be safe or not."