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Lance Cpl. Timothy Pierce, 24, from Wallace, N.C., shakes hands with Capt. Todd Richardson, the Echo Company company commander with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, after being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his decisive thinking and quick response to a car accident. "It wasn't a duty," explained Pierce. "It was just decent human nature and the right thing to do."

Photo by Lance Cpl. Mel Johnson

Marines awarded medals for lifesaving efforts

19 Jul 2013 | Lance Cpl. Mel Johnson

Ronald Reagan said “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world, but the Marines don't have that problem.” 

Lance Cpls. Jesse Pearsall and Timothy Pierce, both riflemen with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, were presented Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals by Capt. Todd Richardson, for making a difference to the victims of a car accident near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune October 26, 2012.

“We were leaving Camp Lejeune and were about 10 minutes off the base when we saw cars swerving around something in the middle of the road,” said Pierce, 24, a Wallace, N.C., native. “Once we got closer, we saw a smoking white minivan sitting in the middle of the road and pieces of moving debris all over the road—the accident had literally just happened.

“We quickly pulled over and ran toward the accident, and started helping the family inside,” Pierce continued. “We were the first ones there.”

Their quick thinking allowed them the necessary time to respond to the drivers and passengers of both vehicles involved in the accident.

“Having removed the children and mother from the first vehicle, we went over to the second vehicle to make sure the people inside were OK,” said Pearsall. “Once we saw that they were fine, we focused our attention to the children, especially the little boy that was starting to turn blue in the face.”

“When I saw him, I was shocked at first,” said Pearsall, a 20-year-old native of Gloucester, Va. “But after that ‘Oh crap!’ moment, I cleared his mouth of what was constricting his breathing, and then I started blowing air in his mouth to keep the oxygen flowing.”

Having helped to the best of their abilities, the two Marines quickly informed their chain of command, and waited for the paramedics to arrive.

Pierce explained that after calling their squad leader, they had to stop and think about what they had done.

“We just sat there,” said Pierce. “Sat there and repeatedly asked each other what just happened because it all went by so fast and was over before we knew it. We definitely didn’t expect to get anything for it.

“Honestly, it’s not about the awards or recognition,” said Peirce. “It was simply the right thing to do. Were it my family, I wouldn’t want people just passing by as if nothing happened.”

Like many Marines who have come before them, Pierce and Pearsall did the right thing without hesitation.

“They didn’t have to stop,” said 1st Lt. Joseph Burger, a platoon commander with Echo Company. “They could’ve been like every person who drove by, but they didn’t, and that’s what sets them apart from others.”