When we think about people in the military, the things that come to mind are scenes of firefights, marching, and the grueling training necessary to get a person into peak physical condition. But there’s more to being in the armed forces than the sort of thing you see on TV and in the movies.
One of the things folks in the military do with their down time that doesn’t get much attention is to follow various athletics pursuits. Like the rest of us, they’re often just looking for a way to relax, blow off steam, and have a bit of healthy competition. But when an emergency situation arrives, they’re still up to the challenge…
Each year, the US Armed Forces Sports puts on a number of events where the men and women who serve in the military have an opportunity to let off some steam and compete against each other. There’s a long tradition of military athletics and as you can imagine, plenty of rivalry between the different branches.
Perhaps the most famous and heated of those rivalries plays out each year in the Army-Navy Football game. Of course, there are many other sporting events where members of the armed forces go head to head, one of them being Volleyball…
In 2018, the Armed Forces Volleyball Championship was being held in Florida. Over the course of 5 days in May, the best volleyball teams from each branch of the military would come together to determine who would have bragging rights while at the same time, getting in some much appreciated RR…
The All-Navy Men’s Volleyball team that year was made up of Chief Petty Officer Aniahau Desha, Seamon Gaston Yescas, Petty Officer 1st Class Sheldon Lucius, and Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Essick. They’d gotten to Florida a few days before the tournament began to get a head start on the relaxation part of the event…
Day At The Beach
All 4 teammates had decided to get together with their families for a little beach time on May 5th, a couple of days before the tournament began. They’d just gotten to the beach and met up with each other when a commotion suddenly broke out.
“We’d just sat down and some ladies came up the beach yelling for help,” said Desha. The women had apparently seen 2 girls out in the choppy waves that were in trouble. If they didn’t get help soon, they were going to drown…
Spring Into Aciton
Without giving it a second thought, all 4 men were on their feet, sprinting for the surf. They leapt into the water and swam out to the girls as fast as they could. Lucius was the first to get to one girl, who was conscious and thrashing in the water to try and stay afloat…
As Lucius tried to bring her back to shore, the girl continued desperately flailing about. She was naturally in a panic for fear of drowning but her movements were making her rescue more difficult. Still, the strong swimmer managed to get her back on solid ground unharmed…
The other girl in the water wasn’t thrashing about at all, though not for the most reassuring reason, she had lost consciousness. As Lucius was rescuing the conscious girl, Essick was the first to get to the one who’d passed out. With the help of the other 2 Navy men, he brought her back to the beach.
“When we got on shore, as soon as I picked her up, I noticed that she wasn’t breathing,” Desha said. “I checked her pulse, there was no pulse. So we immediately started chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth.”…
With the help of Yescas, Desha conducted CPR continuously on the incapacitated teenager until emergency rescue personnel arrived to relieve them. The 2 teens couldn’t have asked for a better foursome of people to be nearby on the beach that day when they were in need of rescue.
“Since I’m a corpsman up to date with the CPR certifications and all, and I was also a lifeguard for 8 years, this was honestly like a normal drill,” said Yescas. “I’ve been in a lot of incidents like this.” He added…
Rushed To The Hospital
While the swimmer who’d lost consciousness had been touch-and-go at first, she was rushed to the hospital by the emergency personnel where she was successfully revived, treated, and was later released. Something that likely wouldn’t have been possible without the quick rescue and competent CPR.
Praise From Coach
The men’s coach had nothing but praise for his team’s quick actions. “Two teenagers are alive today as a direct result of [these sailors’] quick thinking, bravery, and composure under extreme pressure,” said head coach Gilburto Bermudez…
“Because of the actions of these sailors, she’s alive,” said Thomas Lyszkowski, First Coast Navy Fire and Emergency Services assistant fire chief. His superior, fire chief Mark Brusoe had his own words of praise, saying “Those sailors put others before themselves, and did so at great risk to their own safety.”
“It makes me feel great to hear that she made it out alive,” said Yescas. “Her mom sent us a message on Facebook to let us know that she was getting discharged and that her daughter was going to write us a letter and send us a picture just saying thank you for what we did.”…
“It’s an amazing feeling knowing that this girl’s going to see another day because of what we did,” said Desha. “For the parents, especially. And as a parent myself, I couldn’t imagine hearing the news that something happened to my daughter.”
“And if someone was there to help, I’d like them to do the same for me if it was my child.” he added. “I’m pretty honored.” With the wonderful thing they’d done for the 2 teenagers, the men would go into the tournament with a little extra pep in their step…
Can’t Win ‘Em All
Unfortunately, they needed a lot more than that pep to help them out in the tournament. That’s because the Air Force, both Men’s and Women’s teams, were dominant that year, with the women’s team taking gold with a perfect 6-0 record and the men just behind them 5-1.
The Men’s Navy team had the exact opposite score, going just 1-5, suggesting maybe the rescue had taken a bit more out of them than they’d thought. While they didn’t happen to with the volleyball championship, they would always be champions in the eyes of the 2 teenagers whose lives they’d saved.