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Photos

Mar 31, 2016

Cpl. Lester Cano shakes the hand of Col. Carl Cooper after being awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for saving a U.S. Army parachutist that landed in the ocean and was trapped by coral and his own parachute. Cano is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana Cpl. Justin Fugate was awarded the same medal moments after. Cano and Fugate worked as a team on the rescue. The Marines are assigned to Headquarters Company, 3d Marine Regiment and were awarded by the regimental commanding officer, March 30, on Marine Corps Base Hawaii. On Dec. 15, 2015 a U.S. soldier was blown off course from his drop zone by high winds and parachuted into the Pacific Ocean north of the Mokapu Peninsula that forms Marine Corps Base Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Fugate and Cano were running through the area during their Corporal's Course small unit leader evaluation. They noticed people pointing towards the water and then saw the parachutist. They worked together to develop a rescue plan. Cano improvised a safety line and swam 100 meters out to establish himself as the anchoring relay halfway between the trapped soldier and shore. Meanwhile, Fugate and a lifeguard spent the next hour swimming to reach the soldier where they then freed him from the entangled cordage and retrieved him to the shore. Once ashore, Cano rendered first aid and Fugate assisted until emergency medical services arrived.

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