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January 06, 2005


Honor, courage and commitment in action

When recent MCRD-PI graduates Pfc. William Patnode, Pfc. Charles Meskunas, Pvt. James Stewart and Pfc. Gregory Lafountain spotted a fiery crash on New York's Interstate 87, they didn't hesitate. Here's why they were 2 hours late to Recruiter's Assistance training, as related by Sgt. Pamela Shelley

The Marines pulled their vehicle to the side of the road, and all four Marines instinctively leapt into action to help.

“As we approached the vehicle we noticed two females standing there. We asked them if there was anybody inside the vehicles, and they said they didn’t know. With the heat, the flames and the tires blowing, we looked at the fuel truck, and we didn’t know if it was empty,” said Lafountain. “Since there was no cell phone service, Patnode and I drove about a half mile in order to call 911. We still couldn’t get through to 911, so I called my dad. He’s a Captain with the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, he was able to get us aid.”

While Lafountain and Patnode went for help, Meskunas and Stewart, with the help of an unidentified truck driver, pulled the 57-year-old Cornelius J. Mahar from the burning vehicle. After the unidentified truck driver used a knife to cut away Mahar’s seatbelt, the Marines carried him on a sleeping bag to a spot about a quarter mile away and applied basic first aid to Mahar while waiting for emergency assistance.

Assemblymen Chris Ortloff, who was also on his way to Albany, pulled over to help and photograph the Marines life-saving steps.

“I was on the ledge trying to get the attention of drivers in the northbound lanes to call the troopers,” said Ortloff to the Press-Republican. “ When I looked back the Marines were trying to get the guy out.” That’s when Ortloff captured the Marines’ actions with his digital camera.

When help arrived, the Marines continued doing their part at the scene of the accident by directing traffic and assisting with emergency vehicles.

“They were working on him when we arrived,” said Westport Fire Chief, Jim Westover to the Press- Republican. “They grabbed gear from the ambulance and kept working. They were incredible.”

Mahar was listed in critical condition at Fletcher Allen Healthcare in Burlington, Vt. The driver of the tractor-trailer, 36-year-old Gloria Morgan, sustained only minor injuries, according to State Police.

Two hours late, the foursome reported in for their class here. After the Marines told Sgt. Maj. Andrew L. Yagle, sergeant major RS Albany, about their ordeal, Yagle recognized their adherence to the Marine Corps’ ethos.

“They definitely displayed their honor, courage and commitment,” said Yagle. “The purpose of my class here is to remind them of the positive image and roles they need to portray here on the home front. They did just that, they set a good example, and we’re proud of them.”

"(Lafountain) came down here with all the tools, especially maturity. We just chipped away the rough edges and transformed him," said Staff Sgt. Robert L. Lytle, Senior Drill Instructor of Platoon 3110, India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. " He was an outstanding recruit who has obviously turned into an outstanding Marine."

All four Marines credited their life-saving action to the training they received from Senior Drill Instructors Staff Sgt. Norman, Staff Sgt. Collinson, and Staff Sgt. Lytle during recruit training at Parris Island, S.C. They said that training gave them the ability to handle a situation this critical.


Posted by Deb at January 6, 2005 03:29 AM

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Well, at least next to one... Man rescued from burning truck by four Marines" href="http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D8156F7FAC61373385256F80007AC6D1?opendocument">Marine Corps News> Man rescued from burning truck by four Marines..."I w... [Read More]

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Well, at least next to one... Man rescued from burning truck by four Marines" href="http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D8156F7FAC61373385256F80007AC6D1?opendocument">Marine Corps News> Man rescued from burning truck by four Marines..."I w... [Read More]

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Comments

OOHRAAH!! Well done Marines!

Semper Fi!

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