MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Cherry blossom petals fell at their feet as they strolled alongside the Nishiki River, drinking popular Japanese drinks while hundreds of smiling faces take photos near the Kintaikyo Bridge.
U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Dawson Hatzman, an engineer assistant, and Cpl. Lucas Iacarella, a combat engineer, both with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, noticed a sightseeing-cruise boat trapped under the bridge. The boat was in a precarious position and risked being swept downstream to nearby rapids.
The boatman managed to drop the anchor in a desperate attempt to stop the boat at the bottom of the bridge, but the current proved too rapid. He jumped into the cold water and tried to push the boat upstream but was unable to overcome the force of the Nishiki River.
Hatzman and Iacarella made the quick decision to run across the bridge and down to the water’s edge where they kicked off their shoes to help the man and his passengers.
Together the Japanese boatman and the two Marines pushed the boat back to the safety of the far side of the river. The man thanked them for their help, and they went separate ways. The boatman sent a letter to MCAS Iwakuni thanking the two men for their help that day, in Iwakuni City, Japan, April 1, 2018.
“I don’t think it’s heroic. It’s something that everybody should do,” said Hatzman. “We were across the bridge and noticed that one of the boats that takes tourists across the river was at a standstill. One of the boatmen was in the water trying to get the boat free with no luck.”
Hatzman said he never expected an event to occur that would test what the Marine Corps has instilled in them over the years. They took iniative to help the boatman to get the passengers back to safety.
Making quick decisions to help someone you don’t know, while possibly risking your safety, displays the fundamental traits of honor, courage and commitment all Marines are expected to live by. Every invidual Marine has the responsibility to demonstrate these traits with everyday actions they take.
“I think that’s the whole purpose of being a Marine,” said Hatzman. “Taking the initiative to step up and make a difference in the world. It’s our duty to, wherever we can. It’s important because we get to build that relationship (with our Japanese hosts).”