News: Heroes rescue stranded swimmers
Story by Spc. Lerone Simmons
U.S. NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – During the holiday season, troopers assigned to Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gathered with friends and comrades to celebrate at different GTMO locations.
On Thanksgiving Day, Army Staff Sgt. Noe PerezMartir and Army Pvt. Ryan Curtis crossed paths during a visit to Windmill Beach.
The two, assigned to units serving under the JTF - PerezMartir, an engineer assigned to the 40th Infantry Division working JTF Logistics, and Curtis, military police assigned to the 66th Military Police Company - sprang into action as they simultaneously spotted two swimmers, separated by a good distance, struggling to stay afloat.
With no formal swimming experience, but having 10 years of military training, PerezMartir rushed to the aid the first victim, about 50 yards from the shore.
“I heard the screaming and I just went in,” said PerezMartir.
Seconds after hearing the first cry for help, Curtis, who was already heading toward the first victim, sighted another swimmer struggling. He adjusted his course to get to the second swimmer.
Curtis, a former competitive swimmer as a student at Uintah High School in Utah, has only been in the Army for less than a year.
“I swam a lot in high school and was properly trained, but no matter the situation, it’s always good to have someone around, especially if something happens in the water," Curtis said.
After arriving on shore, they began to assess their casualties; like their military training prepared them to do on a battlefield.
Both victims were third country nationals, suffering from leg cramps. Both were thankful and able to walk away, nameless but grateful.
“The Army mentality is to aid someone who needs help,” said PerezMartir. “I usually just come to the beach on the weekends, and never expected anything like this to happen.”
Although unexpected, they considered their actions common sense.
“It was the right thing to do,” said Curtis. “I’m not a hero; I’m sure any other person would’ve done the same thing.”
Curtis was nominated by his command and selected to be the Motivator of the Week by Marine Sgt. Maj. Juan M. Hidalgo Jr., senior enlisted leader, JTF GTMO Command, for his actions.