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U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command


U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command

Camp Lejeune, NC

MARSOC corpsman saves the day

By Sgt. Steven King | | July 14, 2008

Many times when people use the word “hero,” the images of comic book protagonists such as Superman and Batman immediately enter our thoughts and ignite our imaginations. In reality, the true heroes within a society are the men and women who step up and take action to help others in need or during emergency situations.

This was the case for Petty Officer 3rd Class John L. Nelson, Marine Special Operations Support Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, when he administered first aid to a Marine having a seizure during a physical training session here, recently. Nelson was awarded the Navy Achievement Medal as a result of his actions.

The morning of May 21 started out as a typical Wednesday morning for Nelson as he drove to work listening to music and thinking about the tasks that lay ahead of him at the office. Little did he know that his morning plans would soon experience a serious adjustment when he would be called upon to help a fellow service member in serious need of medical assistance. 

“I was just driving along minding my own business, when suddenly as I pulled into the parking lot of my workplace, (Chief Petty Officer Harry Haug, MSOSG Battalion Aid Station Leading Chief Petty Officer) stopped me and told me that he had noticed two Marines across the street carrying another Marine,” said Nelson. “Chief told me to run over there and assist while he parked his vehicle to join me in a few moments.”

Nelson ran across the street and quickly assessed the situation. His rapid appraisal of the Marine’s condition lead him to the conclusion that the Marine was having a seizure.

“The Marine was completely unresponsive,” said Nelson. “He stopped breathing and he had no pulse.”

Nelson asked the friends of the incapacitated Marine to find a telephone and dial 9-1-1. He then executed a pinch of the brachial artery, followed by a sternum rub with the hopes of reviving the fallen warrior, but his efforts were to no avail.

Time was of the essence as the Marine lay unconscious and without oxygen.  

“After all my other attempts to revive the Marine didn’t work, I decided to administer CPR,” said Nelson.     

Initially, the CPR was successful, but the Marine wasn’t in the clear yet. 

“I revived him about three or four times but he kept passing out again and again,” said Nelson. “The last time he regained consciousness, the ambulance showed up and their team took over.”

The Marine was rushed to the hospital and, after a few days, made a full recovery.  

“I’m just glad that Chief Haug was able to spot the Marine in trouble,” said Nelson. “If the chief didn’t spot the Marine and let me know that something was wrong, I wouldn’t have known anything about the situation and who knows what would have happened.”

Nelson may not wear a cape or fly around the base fighting against the forces of evil, but he is a hero by all means. He faced an urgent situation without hesitation, took action and made a difference, and that’s what heroes do.