Quick reacting Marines aid injured Okinawan motorist

27 Jun 2014 | Staff Sgt. Joseph Digirolamo

OKINAWA, Japan - Several Marines from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit rushed to aid an accident victim who was hit by a vehicle while riding his moped on highway 58 in Ginowan city, June 27.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas G. Kenny credits the first-aid training he has received in the Marine Corps for the quick actions he and others took in helping the severely injured man.

Kenny, a motor transport operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st MEU, was driving a bus with Marines from Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st MEU, when the accident occurred.

“We were at a red light off (highway) 58 coming out of the (Marine Corps Air Station) Futenma gate turning left toward Camp Foster,” said Kenny, a 24-year-old native of Delton, Michigan. “A guy on a moped was trying to go left when another (driver) hit him. No one was stopping, so I stopped and turned on the flashers.”

Among the Marine responders was Lt. Col. Robert C. Rice, commanding officer for BLT 3/5.
 
“We have a responsibility to act,” said Rice, a native of Richland, Washington. “We couldn’t sit there and watch a guy with extensive injuries and not do anything. We wanted to assess the scene and make sure appropriate first aid was rendered while emergency services were on their way.”

Unfortunately, the accident victim did not have a helmet on at the time of the incident and suffered a head injury. Rice and the other Marines understood the dangers of this type of trauma.

“We were trying to render assistance as needed and were unsure how much people knew about first aid,” said Rice. “The guy had a significant head wound and potential back and neck injuries, and we did not want him moved.”

Kenny’s intuition may have helped the victim from suffering more severe and life threatening injuries due to loss of blood.

“I ran back to the bus to get the first aid kit,” said Kenny. “However, I found the van’s spill kit and took out some clean square pads that are normally used to clean up oil. We used that to help stop the bleeding until the local authorities arrived.”

Although Kenny couldn’t speak Japanese or read kanji, he began to look for clues to the man’s identity while another bystander applied pressure to the wound. Emboldened by Kenny’s actions, other spectators began to act by directing traffic until emergency services were on the scene.
 
“I found another person to help go through the victim’s moped so we could find (something with) his name so we could give it to the medics,” said Kenny. “We were able to find his registration for the bike and give it to the medics on scene.”

It was not the first time that Kenny has witnessed and assisted in a motorcycle accident.
 
“When I was in Florida, I tried helping a guy who got hit on a motorcycle (while) not wearing a helmet, but that person ended up dying,” Kenny explained. 

At the end of the day, Kenny and the Marines who responded were glad to assist a person in need.

“It feels good knowing that we made a difference today and we helped him out,” said Kenny. “Besides, it is what Marines do.”


31st Marine Expeditionary Unit