Marine Maj. William Easter made it his “moral obligation” to dive into the dangerous, choppy seas to save a pregnant Okinawa woman who was drowning.
Easter was getting ready to perform his physical fitness run in Okinawa, Japan, on December 8, 2018, when he heard pleas for help, the Marine Corps Times reported.
A man local to the area had swam to shore and was desperately trying to find someone to save his pregnant wife, who was left stranded in the ocean.
Easter quickly summoned two other service members for help and a flotation device. Using a life ring, he dashed 300 meters into the water, attempting to drag the woman ashore while fighting 35 mile-per-hour (mph) winds and ten-foot swells for about an hour before rescue crews arrived with a lifeboat.
“I didn’t know what the victim’s state was, but I felt like I had a moral obligation to do something,” Easter said. “The water was dangerous, but I was confident in my skills and training.”
Because of the choppy seas, the first lifeboat capsized, leaving the two back in the water waiting for another boat to arrive to rescue them.
Easter received multiple awards for his daring rescue, including a letter of appreciation from the Chatan, Okinawa, Japan, mayor back in January 2019, and the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, which he recently received on February 14.
The medal is the highest award an enlisted military person can receive for noncombat heroism.