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Col. Lance A. McDaniel, left, congratulates Sgt. Jacob J. Baumann Jan. 14 on receiving the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for potentially saving the life of a local Japanese gentleman. “Heroism often involves an ordinary man doing extraordinary things for others,” said McDaniel from Waco, Texas. “Recently Sgt. Baumann saw the opportunity and didn’t spend time thinking; he acted on behalf of someone else.” McDaniel is the commanding officer of 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Baumann is from Junction City, Kansas, and a fire support man with Headquarter Battery, 12th Marine Regiment.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Isaac Ibarra

Kansas Marine Saves Life of Okinawan Days Before Christmas

14 Jan 2015 | Cpl. Rebecca Elmy 3rd Marine Division

Honor, courage and commitment is what every United States Marine stands for. One Marine stationed on Camp Hansen took these values to the next level showing Marines are never off duty.

On the afternoon of Dec. 23, Sgt. Jacob Baumann from Junction City, Kansas, drove down a local roadway, near Camp Hansen in Kin Town, Okinawa, when he possibly saved the life of an elderly Okinawan man.

Baumann, a fire support man with Headquarters Battery, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, noticed a man unsteadily riding his bicycle inches away from the road. As Baumann passed the man, the man suddenly fell off of his bike onto the road. Baumann immediately pulled over and moved the man and his bike away from oncoming traffic.

“When I saw him fall, it was an immediate reaction for me to help him,” said Baumann. “I don’t like to stick my nose in people’s business, but I do like to help. I believe in karma. I grew up knowing that if you don’t help someone when they’re in need, then why would somebody help you?”

First, Baumann checked the man’s breathing by putting his ear near the man’s nose and watched for the rise and fall of his chest. Baumann began chest compressions when he noticed his irregular heartbeat.

Baumann’s experiences with personal training outside of the Marine Corps lead him to get certified in CPR. He has also taken pre-deployment combat lifesaver training in the Corps. His need to react quickly and tactfully when on the job helped prepare him to respond to the scene.

“When I ran up to the scene my heart was racing because I was worried that he was hurt,” said Baumann. “Right when I saw him I just did what I needed to do.”

After Baumann resuscitated the man, a couple of corpsmen pulled over to help.

“He was in a state of shock, where he wasn’t getting that much oxygen to his brain,” said Baumann. “One of the corpsmen said he was responding in English at first, then after that it was straight Japanese.”

An Japanese ambulance arrived on scene and relieved Baumann.

The Marine’s action drew the attention and admiration of a local passing by.

“I was so impressed and inspired to see the Marine trying to give him water and some of his own lunch box as he asked for something to eat and drink,” said Sgt. Maj. Toshiki Iwasaki, the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force liaison officer for III MEF. “The Marines (and corpsmen) are awesome, and I am grateful to them.”

Baumann explained there was one specific moment he will always remember from that day.

“I was doing compressions on the man when I looked over to see this lady was staring at us …,” said Baumann. “Then other people started pulling up behind us and asked us if we needed help. I feel at that point, for that very small moment, not only were service members working together, it was a town that was starting to unite. That was pretty uplifting.”

The next day his friend impressed upon him the significance of his actions. He recounted the conversation.

“A good friend of mine said, ‘That guy was (going to) die, and you stopped it. How does that make you feel?’” said Baumann “I replied with, ‘Good, I guess. I just did what any good person would do.’”

“No, seriously, somebody’s grandfather, somebody’s father, somebody’s brother, was (going to) die today and you just happened to be at the right place, at the right time. How does that make you feel?” asked his friend.

“I’m happy that I helped him,” said Baumann. “One thing I want to make sure of is that people spread generosity.”