Five Marines returning from U.S. Naval Base Chinhae rushed to the aid of a motorist trapped inside a cargo truck after the fully loaded vehicle rolled over and skidded off the road near Chinhae, South Korea, June 7.
Marines from the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Korea Aviation Ordinance Detachment cut the seatbelt to free the trapped driver, moved him to safety and performed first aid to treat profuse bleeding and other injuries.
Cpl. Zachariah L. Riley – along with lance corporals Brent D. Nelson, Brandon E. Hodges, Adam C. Donahue, and Detrick L. Milton – were on their way back to Pohang, South Korea, when they witnessed the accident.
“My initial reaction was to help the driver and contain the situation because it was morally the right thing to do,” said Riley, who was driving when he witnessed the accident. “I would have done the same back in the U.S.”
After rushing to the scene to assess the damage and assist, the Marines realized an additional danger existed due to transmission fluid leaking onto the engine.
“As Milton and I approached the vehicle, there were a lot of civilians standing around, unsure of what to do,” said Donahue, a native of Levittown, Pa. “Since we were the first two Marines to approach the scene, we acted as we thought necessary.”
“My initial thought was that we had to get over there and we had to help,” recalled Milton, a native of Stockbridge, Ga.
Once the Marines pulled the injured driver away from the wreckage, they used the first aid kit from their vehicle and proceeded to tend to the driver’s injuries. They remained with the driver, comforting him, until the local first responders arrived.
“Since the driver was already being attended to, my next thought was to make sure that no further accidents would occur,” said Hodges, a native of Tampa, Fla.
Both Hodges and Nelson, a native of Zumbro Falls, Minn., took control of the scene, setting up emergency traffic cones, directing traffic and clearing the debris from the road.
Riley, a native of Brookville, Ohio, contacted local emergency response teams, and ensured the situation was under control until help arrived.
“The U.S. Marines and ROK Marines are the most cohesive military team in the Western Pacific,” said Maj. Gen. Michael R. Regner, commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Korea. “The training they engage in to protect the Korean people from aggression enables them to always be ready. This life-saving action by these Marines is another example of our dedication to the Korean and U.S. alliance.”