In mid-February, a married couple, taking advantage of Southern California weather, went kayaking in the Pacific Ocean.
At some point, the couple kayaked into the amphibious vehicle 21 Area Boat Basin training area off the shore of Camp Pendleton, California, where “unforgivable” waves flipped the two into the water, according to a Marine Corps press release.
The couple’s cries for help were heard by a nearby Marine, who relayed the message to Cpl. Jordan Perez, a combat engineer with the 7th Engineer Support Battalion, as he was nearby on a construction project, the release said. Perez immediately leaped into action.
“I took my boots off and just started swimming,” Perez said in the press release.
The Marine fought through nearly 250 meters of rough waters to reach the couple struggling in the water.
After reaching the couple he “grabbed the woman’s hand and pulled her back on the kayak and began pushing the boat back to the rocks,” Perez said.
The husband swam alongside the Marine and his wife as Perez pushed the kayak to safety.
About halfway to shore the husband started to panic and flail in the water. Perez soon noticed and turned back.
He put a life preserver over the husband, ensuring the man could safely float before returning to the wife in the kayak, the release said.
Perez was “particularly ready for this moment.”
The Marine has been spending two hours swimming each day as he works with a retired reconnaissance Marine to prepare for the rigorous Marine Raider selection process.
“That [training] takes away any hesitation that comes with putting your own life at risk,” Perez said in the press release. “Since I had been training, I was confident that I could get myself out there and get those people back.”
In recognition of his rescue efforts, Brig. Gen. Dan Conley, the commanding general for Marine Corps Installations West, Camp Pendleton, California, presented the young Marine with a challenge coin after the two talked about the Marine’s heroic actions.
“I’d like to believe a lot of people would do what you did, but I know they wouldn’t,” Conley said in the release. “So, to hear it actually happen is just amazing. That was really gutsy of you.”
The Marine has also been put in for an additional award and will be formally recognized for his actions this week, 1st Lt. Anthony Reyes told Marine Corps Times on Tuesday.