Mayor Tedd Wallace, 63, only knows his hero's last name but says for as long as he lives, he will never forget what he did four days ago.
"I can only say thank you Mr. Mattson from Denmark, thank you so much," Wallace said. "I yelled out for help and this Danish man, bless his heart, came as fast as he could."
While vacationing in St. Croix, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands which he has done for decades, Wallace says while boogie boarding Sunday he got caught in a riptide
"It was a good 10 minutes I thought I was gone," he said.
The Danish man, a tourist in his 70s, came to his aid.
"He said 'Let's hang on to the boogie board together and tried to paddle together," Wallace said. "So he did but he only took a couple kicks and then all of a sudden he went under."
Heading for the rocks and holding on to his board, Wallace says his life, his family, flashed before his eyes.
That was when a second rescuer got involved and pulled Wallace out of the water, but could not save the Danish man.
"I thought I was gone," he said. "Then miraculously an arm reached out for me ... (and) pulled me onto the rocks to safety."
Sitting on the rocks waiting to be rescued, Wallace was still hoping the other man made it out alive.
"When I got over the edge, and saw the beach, saw the man, lying there, I covered him with a sheet," Wallace said. "Then reality hits you."
Heading back to the beach, cut and bleeding, Wallace met the man's love of 48 years, now a widow.
"She came up to me and hugged me," Wallace said. "I just said I'm so sorry."
Wallace immediately called his wife of 35 years back at home.
"She cried out in anguish," he said. "Happy to hear me talking."
Wallace calls both men who pulled him to safety "absolute heroes."
With complete love and admiration for the man who lost his life saving his, Wallace, who returned to Michigan Sunday says he's a changed person forever.
"I going to meet with every family member I can," he said. "I want to hug them."
"I've got a second chance."