Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Pfc. William Patnode
Pfc. Charles Meskunas
Pvt. James Stewart
Pfc. Gregory Lafountain

These four Marines deserve some sort of medal or commendation, at the very least acknowledgement for a heroic save.
Pulling a man from his burning tractor-trailer cab, New York Marines helped save a man’s life Monday.

Pfc. William Patnode, Pfc. Charles Meskunas, Pvt. James Stewart and Pfc. Gregory Lafountain were driving south on Interstate 87 to check in for their Permissive Recruiters Assistance Program class here shortly after they graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Training in Parris Island, S.C.

Minutes after passing Exit 31, the group spotted flames through the fog on the North Country road. As the accident grew closer, the Marines were able to fully view the wreckage.

A nearly empty fuel tanker had rammed into the back end of a tractor-trailer truck in the southbound lane of the highway.
These Marines had no way of knowing if the tanker was empty or full, or if anyone was trapped inside. They just leapt into action.
While Lafountain and Patnode went for help, Meskunas and Stewart, with the help of an unidentified truck driver, pulled the 57-year-old Cornelius J. Mahar from the burning vehicle. After the unidentified truck driver used a knife to cut away Mahar’s seatbelt, the Marines carried him on a sleeping bag to a spot about a quarter mile away and applied basic first aid to Mahar while waiting for emergency assistance.
An Assemblyman, Chris Ortloff, also pulled over to help and took photographs of the Marines at work.
When help arrived, the Marines continued doing their part at the scene of the accident by directing traffic and assisting with emergency vehicles.

“They were working on him when we arrived,” said Westport Fire Chief, Jim Westover to the Press- Republican. “They grabbed gear from the ambulance and kept working. They were incredible.”
Two hours late, the foursome reported in for their class in Albany. After the Marines told Sgt. Maj. Andrew L. Yagle, sergeant major RS Albany, about their ordeal, Yagle recognized their adherence to the Marine Corps’ ethos.
All four Marines credited their life-saving action to the training they received from Senior Drill Instructors Staff Sgt. Norman, Staff Sgt. Collinson, and Staff Sgt. Lytle during recruit training at Parris Island, S.C. They said that training gave them the ability to handle a situation this critical.

“They definitely displayed their honor, courage and commitment,” said Yagle. “The purpose of my class here is to remind them of the positive image and roles they need to portray here on the home front. They did just that, they set a good example, and we’re proud of them.”
The only way I could be more proud of these young men was if I was one of their mothers. Semper fi!

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