BELL, Calif. - Marine Corps award citations are fairly uniform in their execution. Beginning with “attention to orders” and ending with “the United States Naval Service.” It's the same opening and closing whether a Marine is awarded a Bronze Star for valor or a Navy Achievement Medal for completing a tour of duty successfully. It's the sentences in between that tell the story of what the Marine accomplished to be given special recognition.
Cpl. Joshua Escandon, a field operator for 3rd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps medal, April 14, 2013. Escandon, then a lance corporal, stopped a man from being stabbed to death by two assailants and was instrumental in saving that man's life and keeping the situation under control until the authorities arrived. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michael Darnell)
Or rather, it tells a story – not the entire story.
Take, for example, the award citation for Cpl. Joshua Escandon, a field radio operator for 3rd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, Marine Forces Reserve. The citation lays out the events of Feb. 19, 2012, when then Lance Cpl. Escandon was responsible for saving a life. He witnessed three men, one of which armed with a sword, attacking another.
Escandon intervened, saving the man's life and keeping the situation under control under the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department arrived on the scene. For these actions, Escandon received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal – the highest non-combat award the Naval services offer for heroism.
Those are the facts. But according the Escandon, what actually happened was proof positive that some individuals simply stand out from the rest.
“The three men were just stomping on the guy on the ground,” he said. “The worst part was that everybody was just standing around watching. I couldn't just stand by and let that happened.
“Honestly, I acting so quickly, I barely knew what I was doing. I just knew that if I didn't do something that guy was probably going to die.”
In fact, the man being assaulted was very likely about to be stabbed before Escandon intervened. He single-handedly disarmed that assailant by grabbing the sword by the blade. “Not the best way to do that,” he admits.
After disarming him, he managed to put him in a chokehold and was still able to fend off the other two assailants – knocking one of them out with his free hand – before the police arrived.
“It wasn't about being tough – I didn't put myself into that mess to prove that I'm some tough Marine,” he explained. “It's just always been embedded in me to do the right thing. As a Marine, I was taught that I am able do the right thing – instead of just standing by. I ran into the situation because of that.”
Not everybody feels that way, of course. There were bystanders, including several individuals who refused repeated requests to help de-escalate the situation, opting to instead videotape the fight.
“People were even still eating. There is no doubt in my mind that they would have stood by eating and videotaping this man get stabbed to death. It was really frustrating.”
Escandon is planning to attend the Los Angeles County Police Academy later this year in hopes that he can continue to serve his community. In between his testing for academy entrance and drilling as a Marine reservist, he's also attending college, studying child psychology with his long-term sites set on working with troubled youths.
“The community is very important to me,” he said. “I firmly believe that as Marines we all have a responsibility to better yourself, your community and your country. We have to remain able to always help a brother or sister out. It's what we do.”
Escandon doesn't like to talk about his award, in fact the day of the award most people weren't even aware of why he was being given an award until the citation was read. The reason for that is that he doesn't feel that he did anything special. He simply did what was right.
“When faced with a situation like that, your reaction boils down to who you are at the core. I was just on autopilot. I just knew it was right to act,” Escandon said. “I think every Marine would've done the same thing in that situation. That's what sets us apart.”
By USMC Sgt. Michael Darnell
Provided through DVIDS
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