MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Three station Marines received the Citizen Life Saving Award, presented by the Arizona Department of Public Safety director, May 8 at the Arizona Department of Transportation Human Resources Development Center in Phoenix.
Cpl. Howard Martin, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron ground support equipment mechanic and native of King, N.C.; Lance Cpl. James Christian, H&HS weather observer and native of Wichita, Kan.; and Lance Cpl. Chris Smith received the award for their actions in an incident that occurred in September.
According to the police report, Yvonne Llanes, wife to a Marine Corps recruiter, was loading bags into the back cargo area of her vehicle Sept. 18 in front of Kirkland’s Home store at Yuma Palms Regional center, when a sport utility vehicle crashed into the back of Llanes’ vehicle, trapping her between the vehicles and severely injuring her legs.
Smith and Dan Shoenborn, a civilian, acted quickly and freed Llanes from in between the vehicles.
Seeing that Llanes was severely injured, Christian and Martin stopped the bleeding by using their waist belts to form tourniquets around Llanes’ legs.
Also at the scene were an emergency medical technician with Yuma Rural Metro Fire Department and a Yuma Police Department detective who helped to monitor Llanes’ life signs and treat her for shock before helped arrived.
Llanes was transported to a hospital shortly after the incident, where she received a full-body volume of blood. Llanes survived the incident but lost both of her legs.
Llanes said during the ceremony she is doing well, getting stronger every day and is grateful for the Marines who helped her that day.
“There aren’t enough words for what I feel, ‘thank you’ is not enough,” she said with tears in her eyes.
“If it wasn’t for these Marines, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Llanes.
The Marines agreed they were only doing what they had been trained to do -- to take control of a situation and take care of the people they swore to protect.
There is no need to be awarded, the important thing is that Llanes is alive and well, said James.
James said the amazing thing was that he hadn’t used the life-saving techniques since his basic training in 2001, but they came to him when he needed them.
Martin said the incident made him realize the importance of his training because there were many people who stood by and did nothing.
The Marines truly went above and beyond duty and did what few people would have, said Cmdr. Roger Vanderpool, an Arizona Highway Patrol officer.
The armed forces make a big difference in this country every day and this is just another example of what makes service members so great, he said.
The Marine Corps has been a huge blessing, extremely supportive and understanding. A group of Marines also went to her home and built a ramp inside, said Llanes.
Many Marines visited her when she was in the hospital and helped provide food and child care, said Gunnery Sgt. Darly Llanes, husband and recruiter with Recruiting Station Phoenix, recruiting sub station Yuma.
“I just want to thank the Marine Corps for training fabulous Marines,” she said. “And for them being there for me when I needed them the most.”