MARINE BARRACKS WASHINGTON -- What if you were given the opportunity to help a complete stranger who had been seriously injured? Would you just walk away or would you take immediate action to help save the person?
Two infantrymen from Alpha Company were faced with situation when they saw a male in his mid-twenties who was about to be assaulted in the late evening of Feb. 24.
Lance Corporals Jared Bolhuis and David Trester were on their way to watch a movie in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown. They had just departed the subway when they heard a disturbance at the top of the escalator. As the two Marines reached street level, they found the man surrounded by a group of 15 young skateboarders.
"There was a young guy, nicely dressed like he was going out. He was squared off with a skateboarder that looked like he was about 18 years old. The skateboarder's friends surrounded the two of them and everyone on the streets was watching this build up," said Bolhuis, a Zeeland, Mich. Native. "Before I knew it, one of the older skateboarders came from behind and blindsided this guy with a punch right in the temple, knocking him out cold."
As soon as the victim was hit, the leathernecks rushed to his aid. As the Marines with their high and tight haircuts approached the victim, the gang of skateboarders quickly dispersed into the crowd.
"Right away, I applied my terrorism awareness training and tried to gain proper identification on as many of those who were involved," Bolhuis added.
As the suspects were fleeing the scene, Bolhuis called for the police. Pedestrian after pedestrian passed by the victim, while some even trying to step over him. Resilient in their efforts to help the man, Bolhuis and Trester kept the crowd away from the victim to allow breathing room and to assess the extent of his injuries.
The man was laying stomach down, bleeding from the mouth. The Marines saw broken teeth on the ground and it appeared the victim may have suffered trauma to the neck after the fall.
"I tended mostly to the victim, while Bolhuis continued to do crowd control," stated Trester, a Chicago, Ill. native.
Within a few minutes the police were on the scene. Right away Bolhuis informed them of the situation and current condition of the victim. At this time a person emerged from the crowd, who claimed to be trained in emergency services. The first thing this individual tried to do was roll the victim over on his back.
"I stopped him right there," said Trester. "From all the training I received in the Marine Corps, I knew that last thing you want to do with an unconscious casualty with potential neck injuries is move them without proper stabilization."
Shortly after, emergency services showed up on the scene. Trester directed the emergency medical technicians on what the apparent injuries were, so they would know where to begin treatment on the victim.
Meanwhile, Bolhuis jumped in the car with the police and told them the direction the suspects had headed. Just three blocks to the east of where the incident took place, the police were able to locate three men with the help of this leatherneck.
"I was nervous when I pointed them out," Bolhuis said. "What if I was wrong? The wrong guys could go to jail, but when we got closer, I knew it was them."
When Bolhuis returned to the scene of the incident, the victim was gone and Trester was standing off to the side waiting for him. After the police took the Marines' witness statements and contact information they sent them on their way.
Bolhuis and Trester never learned the name of the man they helped. When they called the police station to see how he was doing, the police told them because of their fast actions and knowledge of first aid, the victim's neck could have been much worse. They may have possibly saved his life.
As for the suspects, two of the three men who were arrested are in jail awaiting trail.
"It feels good to know the bad guys are in jail and the good guy is back on his feet," Bolhuis said. "As an infantryman in D.C., we don't get the experiences you might in Iraq, so wherever possible, we have to be ready to employ our training and look out for one another."
Bolhuis and Trester do not consider themselves heroes because they said they were only applying what they were trained to do. By using their Marine Corps knowledge and acting on instinct, these modern day men of valor ensured a complete stranger lived to see another day.