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    Caught In The Tide | 3d MLG Marine rescues Marine from drowning

    Caught In The Tide | 3d MLG Marine saves Marine from riptide

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Courtney Robertson | U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. James G. Cates, a licensing noncommissioned officer with Combat...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Courtney Robertson 

    3rd Marine Logistics Group

    CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan – It was a warm and sunny Saturday on April 17th, 2021, when Cpl. James G. Cates, the licensing noncommissioned officer with Combat Logistics Regiment 3, 3d Marine Logistics Group, and his six friends drove up to Oku Beach, Okinawa, to partake in free-diving and snorkeling. It would be his friend, Sgt. John Carrillo's, first time snorkeling, and his last weekend on island before leaving to his next unit. Cates, a seasoned free-diver, was happy to bring him along on their adventure. However, the sunshine and calm weather belied what was taking place in the depths of the ocean. Danger was on the horizon, but the newcomer and the veteran diver were both none the wiser.

    “I thought everyone was on the shore when I got swept by a riptide. I knew I was in one because I’ve dealt with some before. I knew I was getting dragged out so I swam to my left to get out of the tide,” Cates explained. “After I had composed myself I heard someone yelling for ‘Help!’. I looked behind me and I saw Carrillo flailing and screaming. I knew no one else could hear him. I had to help.”

    After discovering Carrillo had been caught in the riptide, Cates swam back into the relentless current. Despite losing his goggles and a flipper while previously caught in the tide, he raced to Carrillo as fast as he could. After catching up to his friend, Cates urged him, “You’re going to swim exactly as I swim, do exactly as I say, and if you do not deviate from that, you will get out of this alive, okay?”

    Cates helped Carrillo to unlatch and remove his weight belt against the continued onslaught of surging water, and together they began the swim back to shore.

    Cates emphasized the importance of maintaining composure during a dramatic and life-threatening event. “I was just as scared as the other guy, but you have to maintain calmness or you’re going to go internal and lose yourself,” said Cates. He explained the situation by addressing the well-known fact that swimming against a riptide will do more harm than good. “You’re only going to tire yourself out. You will not beat the water, especially if you’re a non-experienced swimmer,” said Cates.

    For Carrillo, Cates’ ability to remain calm in such a stressful situation was the difference-maker.

    “I had fought the current for a good five minutes until I was absolutely tired. By the time Cates got to me I was so exhausted and burnt out. I felt bad that the poor dude had to drag me through the current. He remained so cool under pressure, and kept making sure to calm me when I would begin to hyperventilate,” Carrillo explained.

    Upon reaching the shore, after 40 minutes of fighting the current together, Carrillo collapsed to the sand and thanked Cates.

    “I prayed to God to save me while I was pulled out by the force. I prayed I would get out of the situation. Somehow Cates heard my yells for help. That man was my Guardian Angel that day,” Carrillo stated, “I could never be more grateful to that man. I owe him my life.”



    Date Taken: 08.25.2021
    Date Posted: 08.25.2021 01:35
    Story ID: 403854

    Web Views: 1,930
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