A Marine stationed at MCAS Miramar was given the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for Heroism for his life-saving actions at a beach in Panama City, Florida.
Sgt. Nathan Hanbury, an electrician with VMFA(AW)-225, was at the beach with his wife while on leave in August of 2016 when he saw a teenager get swept to sea by a riptide.
“I didn’t really have time to think, so I just acted. I just ran in with the mindset that I have to help this guy out,” Sgt. Hanbury said.
Next thing he knew, Hanbury was in the Gulf of Mexico struggling to keep himself and the teen above the rough waters.
“I spent most of the time in the water, in between the 3 to 5 seconds we get before the next waves put us under, I was just trying to talk to him and keep him calm and stay with him because he was pretty shaken up by the ordeal,” Hanbury said.
Thanks to the Marine, the two made it back to shore alive but Hanbury was in bad shape. Medics ended up taking him to the hospital.
He said his mom and dad were a little freaked out hearing their son had nearly drowned, but other than that he wouldn’t change a thing.
“Between the Marine Corps uniform and behind the rank, I’m just another ordinary guy who was just trying to help someone out,” Hanbury said.
Close to two years after his display of heroism, Hanbury was notified he’d be receiving his award and was given his hardware. It’s good that the Marine Corps finally got to him before it was too late – Hanbury will receive his discharge papers Sunday and head back to his home state of Alabama where he and his wife are planning to build a house and start a family.
Hanbury took time out of his last day on active duty to share his reaction with NBC 7.
“I feel ecstatic, like I’m kind of in a dream. It’s still unrealistic that somebody like me could have the opportunity to be awarded something like this of this caliber,” Hanbury said.