A Marine from Duncanville, Texas was honored Thursday with the Navy and Marine Corps medal for saving a young boy caught in a rip current on a North Carolina beach.
Sgt. Danny McDonald was at Surf Beach City on May 4, 2019 when at about 1 p.m. he heard a frantic cry for help coming from a child struggling to stay afloat in the water.
The boy had been caught in a rip current that pulled him about 300 feet away from shore.
"At first, I didn't really register what was going on at the time," said McDonald. "I heard him screaming from distance and I thought it was kids yelling and playing in the water."
McDonald said when he realized the screaming was becoming more and more frequent and a lot louder he got up and saw the child struggling in the water.
"I immediately sprinted across the sand and dove into the water," McDonald said.
When McDonald reached the boy, he noticed the boy was suffering from a seizure and placed him across his chest and began the long swim back to shore against the strong rip current.
After getting to shallow water a U.S. Navy Corpsman who was at the beach as well helped give medical aid to the boy and they had other Marines in the area call 9-1-1.
Emergency services soon arrived and took the boy into their care. Eyewitnesses were sure the boy would have drowned if it wasn't for McDonald's heroic actions.
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"If not me, then who," said McDonald. "That's what it boils down to. I would do it to anyone in any situation and I would hope someone would help me if I'm ever in trouble."
McDonald said EMS responders told him that the boy would be fine.
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is awarded to those who serve in the U.S. Navy or Marine Corps and distinguish themselves by acts of heroism that don't involve an enemy force such as the lifesaving actions taken by McDonald.
The recipient of the award highlights that they risked their own life during the heroic action.
"It exemplifies what it means to be a Marine. The initiative, fearlessness in the face of danger and hardship, it's exactly what we want all Marines to do," said Capt. Walter Graves, company commander of Weapons Company, 2/6. "We have all of these characteristics that define Marines, our honor, our courage, and our commitment. Sgt. McDonald models each of those characteristics."
McDonald is humbled and feels that he's "super honored for everyone to show up in support and (thankful to) the people who presented the award and to the people involved pushing this up all the way it went. I greatly appreciate it."