SAN ANTONIO – A Marine Corps veteran was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal during a ceremony at Joint Base San Antonio – Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Sept. 8 for heroic actions he performed while on active duty.
Corporal Randy D. Mann, assigned to 3D Assault Amphibian Battalion in Camp Pendleton, California, was awarded the medal for his actions during a routine training evolution in July 2013.
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the second highest medal awarded for non-combat actions by the United States Department of the Navy. Criteria state the award is reserved for individuals who place their own lives at great risk in order to save others during activities not in actual conflict with an enemy.
Mann risked his life when he pulled two fellow Marines out of a dangerous rip current. The Marines were all at risk of being swept out to sea, but Mann repeatedly entered the rough waters to pull struggling Marines to safety, despite growing tired from fighting the current.
“You want to believe that when something happens, you have what it takes to do the right thing,” said Lt. Col. William E. O’Brien, commanding officer 3D Assault Amphibian Battalion, who was the executive officer at the time of Mann’s heroic actions. “On that day, thank God that Corporal Mann was there in that water to save two Marines who are alive right now today because of what he did.”
The two Marines Mann personally pulled to shore that day later stated they firmly believe they were at risk of drowning and wouldn’t have made it to shore without Mann’s assistance. Both had exhausted their own strength in fighting the current and called out for help. Showing courage, Mann responded to their pleas.
“You can be in the right place at the right time, but the third ingredient is being bold and decisive and having the courage to act,” said O’Brien. “You can have those other two and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have the third. If you listen to that citation, that’s exactly what Mann had – the decisiveness, the selflessness to go out there to save those Marines at the potential loss of his own life. That is the key ingredient.”
Mann assisted the first Marine to safety before returning after hearing the second calling out. This second Marine was later brought to medical and diagnosed with pulmonary edema from near drowning. He had fluid in his lungs, hypoxia and hypothermia, showing how serious his predicament in the water was before Mann pulled him to safety.
“Something to take from the events that happened on that day, it’s important as we all know to maintain your physical and mental fitness,” said Mann after receiving his award. “You need to be prepared for whatever needs to be done. I would’ve never thought when that incident was occurring that I would’ve been put in a position like that.”
He credits his ability to respond to the incident calmly to his extensive efforts to stay fit at the gym, and also the beach, where he surfed and swam during his free time.
Although his heroic actions took place at Camp Pendleton, Mann has since separated from the Marine Corps and moved to San Antonio, Texas. Once his award was approved, his command decided to host a formal award ceremony close to home so his family could be there. Leadership and Marines from the 3D Assault Amphibian Battalion flew to San Antonio to be part of the ceremony.
“I’m truly humbled to see Marines come together like this,” Mann said to those attending. “It just makes me really proud to say that I’m a part of something as elite as the Marine Corps, and I got to serve with ladies and gentlemen such as yourselves.”
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Jacquelyn Childs