CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Two Marines stationed with 2d Marine Division saved a 10-year-old boy from drowning at Onslow Beach here May 27.
Corporals Jason T. Tucker, the training noncommissioned officer for 1st Platoon, Truck Company, and John Leon Jr., a line NCO with 3d Plt., were at the beach enjoying their Memorial Day weekend when they heard yelling and screaming near the water.
According to Tucker, he and Leon were tossing a football around with some of the other people on the beach when they heard the screams.
"There was a lady who was about waist deep in water about 20 yards out. She was screaming out into the direction of the ocean," said Tucker, a Lincoln Park, Mich., native. "We didn't think anything of it at first, but then the lady started to scream, 'come back in, you're too far out!' I looked out and there was this kid flailing his arms."
What happened next, according to Leon, who is from Grand Rapids, Mich., was that he and Tucker swam out to get the young boy.
The boy was later identified as 10-year-old Keenan Albert, son of Quandra Bines and step-son of Cpl. Anthony Bines, a Marine stationed here with 2d Supply Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group.
Tucker said as soon as they reached him, Albert was face down. He then rolled Albert over and saw he was foaming at the mouth and it didn't seem like he was breathing.
"We were getting pretty worn out from swimming so fast, so far out. I kept looking at him and telling him everything was going to be OK, and I wouldn't let anything happen to him," Tucker explained. "I didn't want this kid to die so I just swam faster and faster. He looked like he wasn't breathing still. I was glad to see that there were more people waiting for us on the beach. After we got to the beach, the lifeguards and a corpsman took over until the ambulance came."
The boy's family later thanked Tucker and Leon during a meeting at the Bines residence in Tarawa Terrace I here.
"I was really scared when I got the phone call about my son. I drove as fast as I could and almost ran every light to get there," said Bines. "I felt bad because I wasn't out there with my wife and son, but very appreciative at the same time that you two (Tucker and Leon) were out there to help them. You guys put yourselves in danger and risked your own lives to save my son. I will never be able to thank you enough."
According to Leon, he and Tucker were actually ready to go home before they heard the screams.
"We were already there for a couple of hours and we were packing all of our stuff up to leave," Leon said. "I guess it was a good thing we stuck around a little longer though."
When the Marines asked Albert about going swimming, Albert just shook his head and said, "never again."
Although sick and still exhausted from the experience, Albert thanked the Marines for what they had done. He gathered up enough energy to stand up, walk over to the Marines, shake both their hands and said, "Thank you for saving my life."
Editor's note- Although not mentioned in the above story, the Bines family would also like to thank the corpsmen, lifeguards, emergency medical technicians and everyone else involved in the incident.