SHELBYVILLE, Texas -- Marines are known for taking care of their own, but when the occasion arises, Marines will take care of anyone in need.
On Nov. 26, 2014, three Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, got that opportunity.
After conducting a funeral detail in Shelbyville, Texas, the Marines started the drive back to their home unit in Bossier City, Louisiana. Less than a mile down the road from the cemetery, the Marines saw an overturned vehicle.
“I just wanted to help her. Why wouldn’t anybody stop to help a person in a situation like that?” said Staff Sgt. Micheal G. McGee, the Inspector Instructor administration chief for Bravo Co., 1st Bn, 23rd Marines, 4th Marine Division.
Upon reaching the accident McGee told Lance Corporals Calvin J. Combs and Brandon L. Persilver, two Reserve Marines who were with him, to get through the passenger window and get her out of her seatbelt.
“I knew that I had to take control of the situation and get the lady out of her truck,” said McGee. He didn’t understand why anybody wouldn’t want to help.
While on one side of the vehicle, getting the woman untangled from her seatbelt, another gentleman showed up to help. Working together they got the woman out of her truck legs first, stomach down, by cutting the seatbelt which ultimately saved her life. McGee, who was still in his dress blue uniform from the funeral, paid no attention to how dirty his uniform was getting as he focused on helping the trapped woman.
After getting the woman out of the truck, Mcgee started looking for anything to identify the woman. He found a paper next to the truck which had her name on it, Patti Cranford.
“She was responsive after being pulled from the vehicle and said she was on her way to a funeral,” said McGee. He looked over the woman’s body, searching for any injuries, finding only a couple of minor scrapes. McGee credits the Marine Corps Combat Lifesavers Course for teaching him how to check for wounds and assess a situation before taking action. Looking beyond the skills the Marine Corps gave him, he believes everyone should know how to care for someone.
“It would just be your basic human instincts to help another person.”
McGee learned the other gentleman, Steve Dudley, was a local volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician. McGee let Dudley take over the situation as police and sheriff officers arrived. The Marines then left the scene to continue their drive to Bossier City.
“It was quiet for 15 minutes,” said McGee. “Then I told the Marines, ‘hey gentlemen, you guys did really good back there. But I just want to make it very clear none of us are heroes. You just did what you were supposed to do,’ and they all agreed. We just did what anybody would have done.”
After the Marines left the scene, LoAnn Harris, the daughter-in-law of the deceased at the funeral, came upon the accident where she recognized the truck and after asking the police if it was Patti Cranford, she told them Patti was her cousin. Harris found out later that a few Marines had just been there.
“We are very thankful,” said Harris. “Because what they did kept her injuries from being worse.”
Although McGee credits basic human courtesy as the reason why he jumped into action his concern for Cranford didn’t end after leaving the scene.
“I contacted the burial home on Monday, Dec. 1 and asked if it was possible to give my phone number to the family to check on Patti and how she’s doing.”
Within 15 minutes he received a call from Harris to assure him that Patti was fine and had minor injuries. LoAnn explained how grateful Patti and the family were that everyone there helped her, and that the family wanted to send them a heartfelt thank you letter.
“I want to thank all the Marines who assisted because I thought I had lost her,” said Harris, who considers Patti a sister more than a cousin.
“I teared up a little bit, but I was just glad that she was okay,” said McGee. “I would do it for anybody.”