Cherry Point Marine's quick actions, combat experience save a man's life in Vanceboro

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U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jefferson Ortiz, company first sergeant for Air Operations Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 271, poses for a photo at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, July 14, 2022. On May 13, 2022, Ortiz, a native of Miami, Florida, performed life-saving actions on a man who had been hit by a car.
U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jefferson Ortiz, company first sergeant for Air Operations Company, Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 271, poses for a photo at Marine Corps Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue, North Carolina, July 14, 2022. On May 13, 2022, Ortiz, a native of Miami, Florida, performed life-saving actions on a man who had been hit by a car.

A Cherry Point Marine was awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his actions in saving a man's life in Vanceboro back in May.

U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jefferson Ortiz, 38, was driving with his wife on N.C. 43 through Vanceboro back to their home in New Bern when Ortiz noticed traffic in front of him had come to a stop, according to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Chief Warrant Officer Bryan Nygaard.

Looking towards a field next to the road, Ortiz saw people gathering. With his combat instincts kicking in, he pulled over to the side of the road, his wife dialed 911.

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Moments before Ortiz arrived on the scene, a man who was checking his mail had been hit by a car going more than 60 mph, launching him into the field nearby, explained Nygaard.

“Everything that I saw led me to believe that someone needed help,” Ortiz said in an article by Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. “And that the people who were there did not understand, or were not comfortable with, providing that help. I figured that if I could make my way over there, see what was going on, and assess the situation to see if there was anything that I could do to help somebody...I wanted to do that.”

Ortiz made his way through the crowd and found the man lying face down in the grass, suffering from life-threatening injuries related to the accident.

“Everyone was telling me he’s dead,” said Ortiz. He asked the bystanders if anyone had checked for a pulse and they all responded with ‘no.’

Ortiz got down on his knees and began checking for a pulse. Nothing. The man’s skin was cold to the touch. Ortiz then opened the man’s eyelids to look for any kind of reaction in his pupils. Again, nothing — no signs of life, according to Nygaard.

Then when checking the man's neck for a pulse, Ortiz found small but vital signs of life.

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Assessing the man's needs through fundamental procedures every Marine is trained to perform when treating a casualty, Ortiz was able to use resources at the scene from bystanders, clearing the man's airway and assisting emergency responders who arrived shortly after.

Nygaard explained the injured man survived his life-threatening injuries, thanks in part to the actions of Ortiz.

“For me, this is just business,” said Ortiz. “I was not concerned as to whether or not he was going to live. I just wanted to give him the opportunity. It was really cool to hear later on that the guy ended up making it through the first 24 hours and that eventually, he lived. He was able to survive that. That was rewarding.”

A nearly 20-year veteran, Ortiz served in multiple infantry units, endured five combat deployments and served as a combat instructor twice and as a mountain-warfare instructor.

He climbed the ranks from private to first sergeant and currently serves as the first sergeant of the Airfield Operations Company of Marine Wing Support Squadron (MWSS) 271. The squadron is a subordinate unit of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the aviation combat element of the II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Ortiz spent almost half of his life fighting in and preparing for war. The life-saving procedures he performed on the injured man were the same ones he performed on many of his fellow Marines in the heat of battle in places such as Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ortiz believes his actions were in keeping with the expectations of all Marines and he hopes his Marines carry the legacy that was given to them by those who have gone before them.

“I want them on a daily basis to be the physical representation of what the American public expects out of the Marine Corps because our existence is about more than just winning battles,” said Ortiz. “It’s about recognizing that our place in society is valued because of these things that Marines do. Let the American people know why we have a Marine Corps.”

This article originally appeared on Sun Journal: Cherry Point Marine's quick actions save a man's life in Vanceboro