Camp Courtney, OKINAWA, JAPAN -- Maj. William Easter, the theatre security cooperation officer with III Marine Expeditionary Force, was awarded the Navy and Marines Corps medal for saving a drowning pregnant woman caught in a rip current.
Easter stood before his comrades in the Battle Cabin of the III MEF headquarters building as the III MEF Commanding General, Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, presented him with the highest award given for non-combat heroic actions.
After the award ceremony, Easter stated that while waiting for emergency services to arrive he remained confident the Japanese and American governments, and public safety resources would respond to the situation and provide the rescue they needed.
“I would like to thank my family for being with me through everything over the years and for this command,” said Easter, a native of Beaufort, South Carolina. “Finally, and certainly not least, I would like to thank the Chatan Fire Department. They’re the ones who picked us up out of the water with jet skis; making everything a bit easier.”
As a humble leader within the Marine Corps, Easter did not expect to receive anything from his gallant actions a year ago and believes every Marine would do the same.
“I think I’m just as brave as anybody else in the military,” said Easter. “I was just the right person at the right time. I’m certain there are any number of people here, who are also the right people, and would have done the same thing.”
Going into the unpredictable waters off the coast of Okinawa to save somebody; you’re risking your life. He did this deliberately, putting everything on the line for someone else, according to Clardy.
“Easter went in the water to save that woman, but in my mind he saved four people,” said Clardy. “He was risking his own life. He had to keep himself alive, if he hadn’t gone in somebody else might have, so he saved the life of that person, and of course the victim, and she was pregnant. This was no small act and I am proud to present him with this award.”