first published on July 27, 2018 by Will
A Marine has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, which is the Corps’ highest award for noncombat valor, for risking his own life to rescue a child caught in a deadly river current.
Lance Cpl. Tucker Watson-Veal was confronted by an upset man who claimed his child was caught out in Arizona’s Salt River and was unable to swim to shore. Without hesitation, Watson-Veal sprung into action.
He ran upstream along the bank several yards before jumping in to allow the swiftly and deadly current to carry him down to the marooned child. “No way I was going to swim against that current,” he said in a Marine Corps Times article. “The Salt River is a very fast moving body of water.”
Watson-Veal reached the extremely fatigued child who was showing signs of hypothermia. He grabbed him with one arm and clung to a tree branch with the other. The boy was likely only seconds away from being swept away by the rapidly moving water. Watson-Veal was able to anchor themselves to the tree until a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department airboat rescue team arrived and pulled the two from the river.
Watson-Veal, an infantry Marine, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal during a ceremony at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California on May 24, 2018.