Marine Awarded For Saving Two In Multiple Car Accident
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Leslie Alcaraz
December 30, 2022
“It’s just the right thing to do and I
would expect the same from anyone else.”
At the time, Lance
Cpl. Joseph Howard, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion,
25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, walked home from work
with two friends when they witnessed a vehicle collision between
four vehicles in Levittown, New York, on December 30, 2017.
Mercedes-Benz was traveling at speeds close to 100 miles an hour
when it ran through a red light of an intersection, striking a
pick-up truck on the driver’s side. Once struck, the pick-up truck
flipped over several times, landing about 300 feet from the point of
impact and colliding with a Volkswagen. The Mercedes also struck
another vehicle before finally striking a tree.
hearing a loud crash, Howard and his two friends ran to the accident
and headed to the overturned pick-up truck, where they found two
“How are we going to get them out
safely and as quick as possible?” Howard asked himself as he was
recollecting his memory of the incident.
Howard took the lead
and advised bystanders to call 911, saving himself valuable time. He
started working though a damaged door. With the help of his friends,
he quickly managed to open the driver’s side door to tend an
unconscious victim. After safely cutting away the seatbelt and
airbag, he moved the driver to a safe location away from the
“I was scared, but I was not willing to leave them
behind,” Howard said, describing the chaotic scene.
friends tended to the driver, Howard ran back to the vehicle now
engulfed in flames, cut away the passenger’s seatbelt and airbag,
and safely removed her from the vehicle. Seconds after pulling the
passenger out, the vehicle exploded.
The passengers of the
Volkswagen and other vehicle suffered unspecified injuries. The
driver of the Mercedes fled the scene and was later caught and
arrested following a full investigation of the incident.
his selfless act of courage in the face of danger, now a sergeant,
Howard would receive the Navy and Marine Corps medal, the Navy and
Marine Corps’ highest non-combat decoration awarded for a
distinguished act of heroism during a ceremony at McGuire Air Force
Base, New Jersey on December 9, 2022.
The driver of the pick-up truck, Alex
LoRusso, suffered broken ribs, pulmonary contusions, and a traumatic
brain injury. His passenger, Stephanie Nuner, suffered a broken
collar bone and fractures to both ankles and a foot.
December 9, 2022
- Alex LoRusso, one of the two victims of a car collision on
December 30, 2017 saved by Sgt. Joseph Howard, an infantry mortarman with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Howard, at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey
on after Howard received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.
The medal is the highest non-combatant decoration awarded. On
, at the time a lance corporal, Howard witnessed a car
collision between four vehicles. LoRusso suffered severe life-threatening injuries, but despite the circumstances he was able to recover and is now thriving. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Leslie Alcaraz)
“The nurse was writing 1-18-18 on the white
board, so I said ‘you’re writing the wrong date,’ she replied, ‘no
sweetheart, you’ve been sleeping’,” LoRusso said, recalling his
first memory. He had to be placed in a medically induced coma due to
his traumatic brain injury and severe bleeding in his brain.
“I am grateful to not only be here, but (Howard) also gave me the
chance to be able interact in everyday life,” said LoRusso as he
explained the implications his injuries caused. He had to relearn
how to walk and even how to talk.
“I was shell shocked; he saved my son's life,” said Vicky
Keill, LoRusso’s mother. She described the long days and nights of
recovery and therapy LoRusso endured and expressed her extreme
gratitude to Howard. “To find out that he is a Marine and a
policeman, he’s all hero, he’s a miracle.”
Howard was born in
Yonkers, New York, and attended Nassau Community College, where he
studied criminal justice. As a full-time student, he also worked two
jobs and enrolled in the Marine Corps’ Delayed Entry Program. In
summer 2014, Howard joined the Marine Corps Reserve.
kid I always wanted to be a Marine, (and) I also wanted to be a
police officer,” Howard said while explaining his family’s history
of serving in the military and the police force,
Reserve Marine afforded him the opportunity be able to serve in both
the Marine Corps and with his local police department as a police
officer at the same time.
“That’s why I joined the Reserve,
so I can be the first to do both,” Howard said.
He joined the
New York Police Department in 2016. He was then assigned to the 75th
Precinct, East New York, Brooklyn, where he began his patrol duties
as an officer. Multiple witnesses, including testimonials from the
victims, the Levittown Fire department, and Nassau County Police
Department, have stated his actions that day saved the lives of
LoRusso and Nuner.
Howard responded without hesitation to a
dangerous and chaotic situation, his bravery in the face of multiple
known and unknown hazards saved multiple lives and reduced the
severity of injuries to others.
Marine Corps Forces Reserve is responsible for providing trained
units and qualified individuals for mobilization to active duty in
time of war, national emergency, and crisis or contingency
operations. On a day-to-day basis, Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES)
consists of a talented and dedicated pool of nearly 100,000 Marines
able to augment the Active Component in a myriad of ways, to include
operational deployments, support to training, participation in
bi/multi-lateral exercises with partner nations and allies, and
service-level experimentation in support of Force Design 2030 and
refinement of new concepts, tactics, techniques, and procedures.
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