A Marine is alive today because a Navy sailor, who happened to be a dive instructor, heard his cries for help and pulled him out of a rip current off the shore of Okinawa. Rip currents in the area have been so strong that from October 2020 on, five service members have drowned, and four rescues have been needed.
Snorkeling Gone Wrong
According to the Navy's Okinawa command Facebook, Aviation Electrician's Mate Airman Ian Olney, a dive instructor, was commended for "saving a fellow service member's life." Staff Sgt. Marshall King, 3rd Intelligence Battalion at Camp Hansen, was snorkeling in shallow water 50 yards from shore on September 21.
At one point, he realized the current was carrying him far away from the shoreline. King said to Stars and Stripes, "I tried to stand up and get out of it, but the current was too strong. It was a strong rip current, and it took me out quick."
He was familiar with the area, and with rip current protocol, so he tried to ride it out until there was calm water, but a half-hour later, he was 200 yards from the shore, and there was no calm water in sight. He said, "That's when I started really panicking."
Thankfully for King, Olney was nearby spearfishing with a dive buddy and heard his screams. He tried to get King to swim to him, but the exhausted Marine was in no shape to get there, so Olney went to him.
Olney said, "He was in full-blown panic, but he was the type of guy to snap out of it." Olney had King lay on his back while he grabbed his torso and back stroked to shore. When they reached calmer water, Olney and his friend, Yuuki Watanabe, each to a side and brought King back to the beach.
It turns out that King had lost a friend to a rip current in 2016, so he knew "the dangers of what the waters out here can do." Thankfully, Olney was there to save his life because without assistance, he could have drowned.