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.
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.
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.
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
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