While he was on the way to check into his new unit, a junior Marine used his military training to save a family in a crashed car in the middle of the road.

In May, Lance Cpl. Joshua Diaz was wrapping up his time off in between checking out of the Chemical Biological Incident Response Force and into 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to a Marine Corps news story.

Driving from his hometown of Miami, the infantryman was on a narrow two-lane road near the small town of Atkinson, North Carolina, when he came across the aftermath of a collision that had left one vehicle in a ditch and one in the middle of the road.

Diaz immediately jumped into action and found a woman with her three children in the car that was in the road, according to the Marine story.

“When I ran up, my mind was blank,” Diaz said in the release. “I was like a robot going back to my training.”

Diaz, who had been trained in vehicle extrication and combat lifesaving, grabbed his medical bag from his car. He pulled the most injured member of the family, a 6-year-old with a cut on the face, out of the car before treating the wound.

He retrieved from the backseat another child, who was unconscious, and rubbed the child’s sternum to help him regain consciousness, according to the Corps. The Marine put him on his side into the recovery position to keep his airway clear as first responders arrived at the scene of the crash.

“I always think of it from the casualty’s standpoint,” Diaz said in the Marine news story. “It’s not a good time being the casualty. The last thing you want is just to sit there and not know what’s going on.”

The family was airlifted to the hospital, according to the release, which stated that Diaz saved the lives of the injured family members.

When Diaz arrived at his new unit, he told the officer on duty what had occurred. But before that, he told his mother.

“My mother remembered how dead-set I was on leaving at a specific time to get to my new unit, not getting more sleep like she wanted me to,” Diaz said in the news story. “It was like an act of God, being there in the right place at the right time.”

Diaz was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal on June 30 in a ceremony at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Diaz was unavailable for an interview because of training commitments, according to Marine spokeman Staff Sgt. Rodion Zabolotniy.

The enlisted leader for his company at his new unit, 1st Sgt. Jared McManus, described Diaz as a Marine who takes initiative.

“No one was looking,” McManus said in the release. “He could have simply driven by, but he didn’t. He stopped and he performed what he did.”

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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