MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – It was supposed to be a normal day at the beach for 1st Lt. Scott A. Whipple, a platoon commander with Hotel Company, 3rd Assault Amphibious Battalion, but his military training would soon be needed.
Whipple was attending a social function at a beach close to Edward Binyah Kesselly Military Compound, April 17, 2010 when two Marines spotted a drowning officer from the Liberian army.
The Marines attempted to rescue him, but when their attempts failed Whipple took action.
Whipple showed little regard for his own safety as he swam into strong rip currents towards the drowning and frantic officer.
“When I saw how far out we were, I was worried,” Whipple said. “But I had to push the worry away and focus on the task at hand.”
Whipple said he was stressed, but remembered to stay calm in the situation, which helped the victim stay calm.
Whipple performed rescue swimming techniques he learned in training to pull the officer more than 200 meters through rough water.
“What I’m so proud of is the courageous action on his part,” said Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division. “He saved the soldier, pulled him to shore and then executed medical procedures to save his life.”
Once Whipple reached shore he placed the officer on his side to allow his lungs to empty of salt water and prevent dry land drowning.
The Liberian officer soon regained consciousness and was able walked home under his own power.
Whipple was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, July 18, for his actions, and has earned the praise of many Marines.
“He’s a tremendous example for all Marines to follow, regardless of rank,” said Lt. Col. Howard F. Hall, the commanding officer of 3rd AABn. “That is the essence of being a Marine right there -- putting aside your own personal safety to not just accomplish a mission, but to save another’s life.”
Whipple’s actions have instilled a sense of pride within the battalion and have been a great example to the Marines he leads.
“You could tell from the reactions of the Marines in the battalion how proud they were when you could hear the cheers and the applause for his courageous actions,” Bailey said. “That’s the type of quality of officers and Marines that make up the Blue Diamond Division.”