Photo Information

Pictured are Warrant Officer Joseph Szewczyk, Lance Cpl. Richard Branch, Pfc. Nicholas Crymes, Cpl. James Bridges Jr., Cpl. Rafael Saucedo, and Sgt. Jose Gomez who all assisted in the rescue of a woman who attempted to commit suicide during San Francisco?s 2006 Fleet Week.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Katelyn A. Knauer

Marines become fleet week heroes

2 Oct 2006 | Lance Cpl. Katelyn A. Knauer

Marines are trained to react to a variety of situations. They are taught to adapt, overcome and push through things as a team. Even when a Marine is on liberty it doesn’t take away the title which is embedded in their character and actions.

During San Francisco’s 2006 Fleet Week, 11 Marines lived up to the title. The Marines, who were on liberty, Oct. 2, were walking by Pier 19 when they saw a woman in the water at the end of the pier.

Cpl. Rafael Saucedo, Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, said the first thing that passed through his head was, "We need to get her out of the water as soon as possible. The longer we take, the weaker she gets."

So with quick actions and firm leadership, the 11 Marines devised a plan to pull the woman to safety.

"We had leaders take charge, and we worked as a team to get her out," said Lance Cpl. Richard Branch, MWSS-374, aircraft recovery specialist.

The Marines, six of whom are stationed here and five from Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, Ariz., knew that it would take all of them if they were going to be successful in pulling the lady to dry land.

"We formed sort of a human chain on a broken timber that was leading into the water," said Pfc. Nicholas Crymes, MWSS 374.

The Marines were later rewarded with a Certificate of Recognition from the San Francisco chief of police.

"It took courage for the Marines involved to put personal safety aside to save this woman," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Hague, MWSS-371. "At any moment one of the Marines could have been pulled in and been in the same predicament as the woman."

The Marines were on San Francisco’s CBS-5 news channel, and received great compliments from the San Francisco chief of police. Chief Heather Fong personally rewarded the Marines on the news and shared her thoughts on their heroic actions.

"Obviously they didn’t have the gear that public safety officials would normally use in that situation, but they were able to successfully rescue the woman and hold on to her," said Fong during the news report. "We’re very, very grateful for their service."

The woman they rescued was transported by ambulance for psychiatric emergency hold at San Francisco General Hospital. If it wasn’t for the Marines’ quick and effective actions, the woman could have drowned in the water.

The Marines, all of whom are very humble about rescuing the woman, are an example of Marines in action. They knew what had to be done and they accomplished the mission.

"None of us backed off," said Saucedo. "We were not worried about getting hurt at the moment. Our main priority was to rescue her."
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