On a sunny December afternoon in Tempe, Arizona, Gabriel R.
McInnis, a sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, thought he was on a
routine drive to serve on a funeral honors detail.
passing through a residential area on December 27, 2016, he heard a
January 7, 2017 - Sgt. Gabriel R. McInnis (center), engineer
equipment mechanic with Bulk Fuel Company C, 6th Engineer Support
Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, receives a Navy and Marine
Corps Achievement Medal at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. McInnis
received the medal for his actions in preventing an assault of a
family in Tempe, Arizona on December 27, 2016. (U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo by Sgt. Ian Leones)
“I was approaching a light, when I heard some screaming and
yelling,” said McInnis, an engineer equipment mechanic with Bulk
Fuel Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics
As he turned to figure out what the commotion was, he
saw a wide-open doorway and a large man physically assaulting Tia
Simpkins and her family in her home.
“I knew I had to act,”
McInnis said. “I threw my car into park and ran over to try to stop
He tackled the attacker despite being outclassed in
height and weight. Soon the pair was on the ground exchanging blows.
Although McInnis took a lot of punches, he prevented the attacker
from getting to the family.
“Finally, I catch a lucky break,”
The attacker threw a punch, missed, and fell
to the ground. McInnis used the opportunity to perform an arm-bar
takedown, a martial arts move, to subdue his opponent. After
restraining the attacker, he dialed 911 and the police responded
By putting his own welfare on the line,
McInnis was able to prevent the assault against Simpkins and her
“I know he is a true hero because there is no way he
could have had time to consider his own safety,” Simpkins said.
McInnis credits the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program with
providing him the training to react.
“I'm a MCMAP instructor
and I spend a lot of my personal time training my Marines,” McInnis
said. “The Marine Corps teaches right from wrong and a bigger guy
attacking a smaller woman is definitely wrong. I saw that and knew I
needed to put an end to what was happening.”
The Marines in
his unit also recognized his heroics and awarded him the Navy and
Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his actions. He has also gained
the admiration of his fellow Marines.
January 7, 2017 - Sgt. Gabriel R. McInnis, engineer equipment
mechanic with Bulk Fuel Company C, 6th Engineer Support Battalion,
4th Marine Logistics Group, proudly wearing the Navy and Marine
Corps Achievement Medal after his award ceremony at Luke Air Force
Base, Arizona. McInnis received the medal for his actions in
preventing an assault of a family in Tempe, Arizona on December 27,
2016. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ian Leones)
“He is one of the Marines I really look up to,” said
Lance Cpl. Logan M. Tucker, an automotive maintenance
mechanic with Co. C who trained under McInnis for MCMAP. “He
is always improving himself and the Marines around him. What
he did embodies Marine Corps ethos. If someone needs help,
it's our duty to take care of people.”
This is not
the first time McInnis has used his Marine Corps training to
help others. A few years ago during a flight to Hawaii,
McInnis used the knowledge he gained from the Combat
Lifesaver Course to help a diabetic woman who had passed out
during the flight.
"I joined to help people and I've had a few
opportunities to do it," McInnis said.
actions, McInnis exhibited the core values that every Marine
strives to exemplify.
“He acted with the honor,
courage and commitment that we always hear about our Marines
having,” Simpkins said. “He risked his own life and welfare
in order to protect people that he barely even knew.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Ian Leones
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