MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII – A lot ran through Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Joseph’s mind when he saw the body of a lance corporal on the pavement outside the movie theater here, Feb. 17.
Joseph recognized the victim exhibited signs of cardiac arrest. He knew if cardiovascular resuscitation wasn’t conducted immediately, the Marine would die.
Joseph began CPR. The lance corporal recovered.
That’s why, on March 13, Joseph received the Emergency Cardiovascular Care Heart Saver Hero Award from the American Heart Association at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
“It is interesting to me that we have young men and women who step up and take action when action is needed,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan said at Joseph’s award ceremony. Toolan, the commander for U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific, called Joseph “the epitome of who we are as Marines.”
‘God Sent You to My Son’
The morning of the incident, Joseph, a 25 year old assigned to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 367, attended annual training with his squadron at the base theater. Feeling tired and not wanting to fall asleep, Joseph headed out to his car to grab an energy drink.
That’s when he heard a thud, a car alarm and noticed a Marine roll on the ground and suddenly stop. He rushed over and realized the Marine had stopped breathing.
“I called 911 and saw two sailors around me and told them to start CPR,” Joseph said. “They said they weren’t trained, and I knew I had to.”
Joseph’s 18-year-old brother, Robert, had died from cardiac arrest. When it happened, no one in the vicinity knew CPR and that’s why Joseph soon made it a point to become CPR-certified.
“I wanted to know why he died,” Joseph said. “Everyone should know CPR. I am familiar with what could happen without it.”
The Ritchie County, West Virginia, native said he was amazed at the timing of the incident. He had completed a CPR refresher course the Friday before the Tuesday incident. He recalled the lance corporal’s mother telling him, “God sent you to my son.”
‘Just What We Do’
“To me, it’s just what Marines do,” Joseph said. “It’s a big deal to everyone else, but to me, it’s just what we do. It means a lot more that he is a Marine, after the fact, because of the brotherhood, but I would have done the same thing if he were anyone else.”
Joseph’s wife, Nicole, and their son, Miles, 3, came to the award ceremony.
“I’m so proud of him,” Nicole said of her husband. “He is very humble and didn’t expect anything in return. Miles [is proud of him, too]. He says he wants to ‘fix helicopters and fight bad guys with my dad one day.’”