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Bias For Action ... Marines Save Lives
by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brytani Wheeler
August 14,  2017

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The 36th Commandant’s Planning Guidance released in 2015 listed several Marine Corps’ Enduring Principles including “Marines keep their honor clean and Marines take care of their own;” adding “these principles define our identity as Marines and as a Marine Corps.” The guidance further states “in all that we do, we should seek to reduce the dissimilarity between how we conduct ourselves in combat and garrison.”

Marines are taught from the first day of boot camp to take care of the Marine to the left and right in combat. But less often is the same attitude stressed as just as important while in garrison.

While the Marine Corps endures recent criticism, there are still Marines who display the morals and values of the Marine Corps. Several Marines continue to do the right thing and some of those Marines go above and beyond.

These Marines display courage during difficult times where others may sit back and think... I’ll let someone else handle that because I don’t know what to do.

These Marines dedicate time toward helping others.
These Marines save the lives of fellow Marines.

Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, took action to saves the lives of fellow Marines, near and far. Lance Cpl. Kevin RodriguezMunoz saved a Marine from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, April 8, 2017; Cpl. Rajinder Walia and Sgt. Ayham Johnson saved a fellow Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Marine, January 17, 2017; and Cpl. Brandon Messina saved a Marine from New York City after discovering a Facebook post. These Marines demonstrated what Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., currently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of in his 2015 Planning Guidance, by having a bias for action and displaying courage to make a difference. (U.S. Marine Corps image/photo by Sgt. Brytani Wheeler - June 27, 2017)
Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, took action to saves the lives of fellow Marines, near and far. Lance Cpl. Kevin RodriguezMunoz saved a Marine from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, April 8, 2017; Cpl. Rajinder Walia and Sgt. Ayham Johnson saved a fellow Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Marine, January 17, 2017; and Cpl. Brandon Messina saved a Marine from New York City after discovering a Facebook post. These Marines demonstrated what Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., currently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of in his 2015 Planning Guidance, by having a bias for action and displaying courage to make a difference. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Marine Corps graphic/photo by Sgt. Brytani Wheeler - June 27, 2017)

HELPING THOSE WHO CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES

A Marine Corps Air Station Miramar postal clerk demonstrated what Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., currently the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of and stepped up during a night out with friends at San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, April 8, 2017.

Lance Cpl. Kevin RodriguezMunoz observed a suspicious man walking toward a dark alley carrying what appeared to be a young military member who seemed to be out of his senses. RodriguezMunoz approached the two men to see if everything was OK only to discover the service member was bleeding and incoherent. After a short dialogue, RodriguezMunoz obtained the ID of the hurt service member and pulled him away from the suspect.

“The first thing that came to my mind was to save his life because he was a fellow Marine,” said RodriguezMunoz, who is also a member of the security augmentation force. “Working for [Provost Marshals Office] teaches me that we have to protect the people who don’t know how to defend themselves.”

RodriguezMunoz caught the attention of others in the area who helped care for the Marine while RodriguezMunoz contacted the Marine’s chain of command who arrived and took him to the local hospital.

Through his actions that night, RodriguezMunoz saved the life of the other Marine: a Marine he’s never met before, who is assigned to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and works at MCAS Miramar.

“He set the example for the rest of us, to include myself and his superiors,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Luis Reyna, RodriguezMunoz’s officer-in-charge. “By being proactive and taking charge of the situation to help another Marine, even though he put himself in danger, speaks highly of his character.”

Reyna described RodriguezMunoz as a Marine who is always taking initiative at work and someone who is a participant not a bystander.

For RodriguezMunoz, it doesn’t matter what it takes, he will always try to protect those in need. “My principles as a Marine are focused on the protection of people and the Marines to my right and left,” said RodriguezMunoz. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Marine or civilian, you’re always ready to help whoever needs it.”

There will be Marines who do something they aren’t supposed to do according to the set standard of ethics, but America looks at the Marine Corps as their protectors, Reyna explained. When Marines do something great, it’s good for them but it’s important for the community to see who these Marines really are and continue to believe in them as America’s number one fighting force, in war and at home.

HELPING YOUR FAMILY

The Marines in one unit at MCAS Miramar are like a family according to the staff noncommissioned officer. That tight bond inspired two Marines to take action January 17, 2017, which helped saved the life of one of their brothers.

“It's automatic,” said Gunnery Sgt. Roy Wright III, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting crash chief. “When a brother or sister needs help, we are there for each other.”

That’s how Cpl. Rajinder Walia and Sgt. Ayham Johnson reacted when one of their fellow Marines sent out a cry for help.

“I received a text from the Marine stating he was contemplating ending his life,” said Walia, ARFF material NCO. “Myself and Sgt. Johnson began trying to contact the Marine, as well as alerted our staff NCOs.”

When Walia and Johnson were unable to contact the Marine through phone calls, they immediately took initiative to go where they believed he lived.

“The Marines reacted to the situation without being told,” said Wright. “I’m extremely proud. To me, it means that I know my Marines will take care of each other, regardless of the situation at hand.”

Senior leaders of the unit discovered the Marine no longer lived at that residence so Johnson and Walia contacted his family and were informed he had moved. The Marines worked together to narrow down apartment complexes where the Marine may have moved, located him, and got him the help he needed.

“The reason I took action was because I cared about the welfare of my Marine,” explained Walia. “Troop welfare is a big deal to me.”

While Walia doesn’t consider himself a hero for his deeds that day, his actions and that of his unit were the factor in saving a Marine’s life.

“I believe taking action to help someone isn't just a Marine Corps concept, it is just something that everyone as people should do for each other,” said Walia.

“We put all our effort into the guys to the left of us, taking care of them and looking after their needs without really having to care about ourselves to an extent because the guys to our right are doing the same thing for us,” said Johnson. “We don't let each other fall through the cracks. I'd give the shirt off my back to any of these Marines and they'd come back with a blanket for me. They are my brothers and sisters.”

As the Marine Corps Leadership Principles state --look out for the welfare of your Marines – Wright recognizes the mindset to care for others in a time of need, without hesitation, is something all Marines should embody no matter the circumstances.

“The way that Marines respond in garrison is how I would expect them to react in combat,” Wright affirmed. “It’s a no Marine left behind mentality.”

“It is impossible to picture a life without one of the Marines you've spent that much time getting to know and care for,” said Johnson. “It just doesn't happen.”

HELPING THOSE NEAR OR FAR

Unlike the others who were close by, or knew the Marine, an MCAS Miramar aviation ordnance Marine took action to help a Marine more than 2,400 miles away in New York City.

When Cpl. Brandon Messina saw a Facebook post from a Marine he didn’t know, he recognized the Marine needed help and quickly started doing what he could.

Within 10 minutes of the post, several people had already started commenting trying to locate the Marine to get someone to him as soon as possible. From the comments, Messina found his unit and called the duty to inform him of the situation.

“I got a call on the duty phone where Cpl. Messina said his name, where he was from and that one of my Marines had just posted a suicidal ideation on Facebook,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Berger, a SNCO in the same unit as the Marine who made the post. “It was everything I needed to call the EMTs and get them headed out; he was very thorough.”

Other Marines used their connections to the New York Police Department to start looking for the Marine as well.

“I didn't find out he was found by the cops or taken for medical attention until two hours later,” said Messina. “It seemed to be an eternity, but it was a huge relief seeing he was still with us.”

Helping a fellow Marine, even if they were 2,400 miles away, was easy for Messina who has personally dealt with similar challenges.

“As a survivor, it made it unsurprising that he would identify with the circumstances and take appropriate actions to ensure the safety of that Marine,” said Capt. David Morell, Messina’s officer-in-charge. “I'm sure to that Marine's family Messina is a hero or an angel; to others he may have just been a concerned citizen/Marine. To me, it took a great deal of personal strength and moral courage to reach out and identify with the Marine and understand the warning signs, which ultimately resulted in Messina contacting someone from his command and communicating well enough to them to take action and involve first responders.”

No matter the distance apart or age difference, Marines have a tight bond to care for one another.

“I'll probably never meet him or speak to him but we're all here for each other and in that very moment you saw exactly what this brotherhood means,” explained Messina. “We all have each other's backs no matter what the circumstances are and we'll go through every means possible to make sure you know that.”

Morell reiterated Marines are taught to never leave a Marine behind and while most relate that to actual combat situations, mental health challenges which come from varying forms of trauma, is still a battle.

“The fact Cpl. Messina related to the circumstances and took action is a reassurance to me as a leader our conversations of service and sacrifice as Marines and the challenges presented to us today are real,” said Morell. “Moreover, those of us who have overcome similar circumstances stand ready to fill the gap when a fellow service member is in need!”

“Marines taking care of Marines has been a tenant of the Marine Corps forever and always will be,” said Berger. “It's critical that we as Marines recognize and pay attention to our peers, and their needs remain on the forefront of our thoughts even when deployments aren't happening.”

MARINES IN AND OUT OF UNIFORM

The term Marine is synonymous with young men and women who are disciplined, smart, physically and mentally tough, and who remain always faithful to each other and to our Corps.

Our initial training instills in the individual Marine a selfless commitment to fellow Marines, a bias for action, and an unwavering commitment to mission accomplishment.

The planning guidance communicates, “Although we remain proud of our heritage, we should expect no credit tomorrow for what we did yesterday.” While these Marines were awarded for their efforts, they believe they simply did what they should have done.

Marine Corps doctrine, Sustaining the Transformation, states: “Beyond preparing a Marine Corps that will win in combat, what truly distinguishes our legacy to our nation are the citizens we produce – citizens transformed by their Marine Corps experience and enriched by their internalization of our ethos, ideals, and values.”

The men and women who wear the eagle, globe and anchor have dedicated themselves to selfless service to our nation and its people, and the actions of these Marines serve as a testament to that commitment.

By U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Brytani Wheeler
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2017

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