MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- A group of three Marines from Combat Logistics Company 16 were each awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in front of the CLC- 16 headquarters building here Oct. 17.
Sgt. Jose Zendejas, Cpl. Reynaldo Martinez and Lance Cpl. Abraham Miller were presented with the medals for life-saving actions taken during a vehicle rollover Sept. 31 on Interstate 8 near Campo, Calif.
According to the California Highway Patrol and witness testimonies, a sportutility vehicle lost control, rammed into the side of a mountain and rolled over. The vehicle’s occupants, a man in his mid-thirties and his son, were stuck inside the vehicle until the Marines and other individuals in the area were able to block off traffic, pull the passengers out of the vehicle and administer first aid.
“It’s weird because we were just driving back through the mountains and we were all focused on the road,” said Martinez. “I glanced over to traffic going into California … and when I glanced over I saw a truck go into the air spinning and slam on the deck. It looked like the kind of stuff you see in a movie -- like a stunt.”
Martinez said after they saw the accident, they turned their vehicle around and Zendejas and Miller used it to block off traffic and notify oncoming traffic of the accident.
Martinez then attended to the boy, who is around 6 years old. He used his undershirt to help stop the bleeding from the boy’s nose and checked him for any serious injuries.
Martinez then moved on to help the father, who had been pulled out by several other people.
The father was bleeding from the back of his head, said Martinez.
“So I took off my blouse and applied it to the back of his head to stop the bleeding as much as possible,” said Martinez. “He stopped breathing a couple of times and I was like ‘damn.’ I just kept talking to him, trying to keep him awake … (while) Miller kept the man’s mouth open to help him breathe and applied pressure to the wound.”
After a while, a registered nurse and doctor who were driving by stopped and brought out a huge first aid kit to help the man, said Martinez, a native of Bloomington, Texas.
Martinez said after the doctor arrived they waited to make sure the situation was under control and then left the scene.
It was just unreal, said Miller, a Trenton, N.J., native. It was one of those things that, when it happens, you really can’t believe it.
“The whole time I was just praying for God to perform a miracle and not let that man die,” said Miller.
It was a pretty scary situation, because there was no way to tell what was going to happen, said Miller.
“I’m extremely impressed with these Marines,” said Sgt. Micah Kovacs, CLC- 16 platoon sergeant and native of Downingtown, Pa. “This showed the type of men these Marines are and I want every Marine to look at this and see it as a part of their jobs. Just as we have physical training every day, it is their job to help people who can’t help themselves.”
The Marines were presented the medals by CLC-16 commanding officer, Maj. Hector Sheppard, in front of a formation composed of fellow CLC-16 Marines.
Sheppard also pointed out how the Marines exemplified what it means to be Marines and how their actions would always be remembered by the people they helped that day.
This is a good example why training is important, he said.
“We do things over and over again to ensure that we are prepared when these situations arise,” said Sheppard.
The things these Marines did will affect more than just the father and his son, said Staff Sgt. Steve Gullickson, CLC-16 maintenance chief and native of Saint Paul, Minn. Now, people will know the Marine Corps is always ready to help.