5 times Marines came to the rescue while off duty

Uncle Walkie
Jun 13, 2023 8:13 AM PDT
4 minute read
hero marines

Lance Cpl. Colton Allen received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal from Colonel Ryan Hoyle, commanding officer, Task Force 61/2, May 15, 2023. (Photo by Cpl. Christopher Doughty)


Sometimes hero Marines locate, close with, and eliminate the conflict, emergency, or crisis…even when they are off duty.

The Marine Corps has a saying, “Every Marine a Rifleman." It denotes that each Marine, regardless of MOS, is at their core a fighter. The mission of the Marine Corps Rifle Squad is, “To locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, and to repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat”. These tenants have a tremendous influence on the culture and conduct of Marines. It affects how they carry themselves, how they view the world, and how they respond to events. Sometimes hero Marines locate, close with, and eliminate the conflict, emergency, or crisis… when off duty.

Here are 5 times Marines came to the rescue while on liberty

1. Estonia

Three lance corporals deployed with a Marine Expeditionary Unit went ashore in Estonia to get a burger when they came upon an unresponsive young man whose lips were turning blue. While other on-lookers just stood around and recorded the event, these hard chargers sprang into action. Two of them began clearing the young man’s airway while the third Marine called emergency services. My favorite part of the story is when they called their Corpsman for advice.

Another example of a phenomenal Navy-Marine Corps team on a personal level. Once first responders took over on-site, the Marines proceeded to casually order their burgers and fries, carrying out the plan of the day. The Marines were recognized for their actions with Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and accolades from an Estonian Navy Commander; in addition to an offer of a free meal next time they patronize the Estonian burger joint, Hesburger.

Logo of Hesburger, the largest hamburger restaurant chain in Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with a market share larger than that of U.S.-based rival McDonald's. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

2. Virginia

In Virginia, three young Marines responded quickly to end an altercation that could have resulted in bloodshed. The Marines reported stopping by Chick-fil-A before getting haircuts while on liberty. These Leathernecks recently completed training, graduating as Marine Security Guards. MSG Marines are screened and trained to provide protection of personnel, classified material, and U.S. property in support of the U.S. State Department while stationed at U.S. Embassies abroad. These Marines were awaiting some final administrative matters prior to reporting to their first post.

A scuffle between three teenagers broke out, and a female bystander was knocked over. One Marine came to the aid of the woman when one of the assailants brandished a knife. The lance corporal’s training kicked in and he grabbed the assailant’s wrist, wrenching it and snapping the knife in two. He directed his fellow Marine to secure the weapon while the other prevented anyone else from joining the melee. Law enforcement personnel arrived on-scene crediting the Marines with preventing a serious injury. 

3. California

A pair of Marine recruiters thwarted a criminal act in California. The Staff Sergeant and Sergeant were interviewing an applicant in their office at the mall when they heard glass shattering. They instinctively knew a burglary was underway at the jewelry store next door. Just as their forebears ran to the sound of the guns, these Devil Dogs ran towards the sound of trouble. The potential recruit followed them to the fight. Four men (one with a hammer) were smashing the jewelry cases. The staff sergeant and future Marine tackled and restrained two men; the sergeant tackled a third who eventually broke free, while the fourth man ran away.

The cops came and detained the remaining two suspects, and the Marines returned to their office, presumably to seal the deal with the aforementioned interviewee. The most impressive aspect of this brouhaha is that the Marines did this while wearing shirt stays and corfam shoes. Respect.

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Josue Fragoso, the station commander of Recruiting Sub Station South Bay, Recruiting Station Orange County, 12th Marine Corps District, poses for a photo with a certificate of recognition from Torrance Mayor, George Chen, in Torrance, California on Dec. 22, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Immanuel Johnson).

4. Hawaii

A Marine sergeant enjoying the nightlife in Waikiki heard gunshots when he went to make a head call. The infantryman ran outside the bar towards the conflict while directing bystanders to take cover. When he reached the victim one of the two attackers was still firing. The sergeant immediately began providing lifesaving aid while directing others to assist him.

His actions included treating a sucking chest wound and applying two tourniquets (with his shirt and a fork!). He matter-of-fact stated, “At the beginning, when I saw everyone get down and I heard the shots, I didn’t think, ‘I should get up and help.’ I just started running that way. It just felt like training.” This is definitely the kind of guy you want by your side whether on duty or on liberty.

5. North Carolina

A Marine sergeant was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal (the highest non-combat medal for heroism) for saving a child from drowning off the North Carolina coast. He was enjoying a day off at the beach when he heard screaming. A boy about 300 feet offshore was struggling and the Marine immediately responded. He had to fight a strong rip current to bring him safely to shore, at risk to his own life. A Navy Corpsman also happened to be on the beach that day.

The Marine and Sailor, though strangers, seamlessly worked together to rescue and provide medical assistance to the youngster. Once ashore, the sergeant, recognizing bystanders as fellow Marines, directed them to call 911. Speaking of the incident the Marine responded, “If not me, then who?”

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, the Commanding General of 2d Marine Division, addresses the audience after awarding Sgt. Danny McDonald, scout sniper with 2d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal at Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 17, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elijah Abernathy)

I will begrudgingly admit the funniest military meme I’ve seen says something to the effect of “Oh, in the Marines they train you to run to the sound of gunfire? That’s cute; in the Army they train us to shoot back!” However, in all seriousness, the Marine Corps attracts a certain type of person who is drawn to danger and willing to place themselves in harm’s way in defense of another.

The 5 episodes listed above are a testament that not only do you want a Marine covering your six in combat, they’re also pretty good to have around while on libo as well. Not bad for a bunch of crayon eaters, Semper Fi.


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