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Marine awarded for heroic act in rescue

Date Posted: 2004-04-15

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan — Capt. David Morzenti, deputy staff judge advocate, Staff Judge Advocate’s Office, Marine Corps Base, received the Joint Service Commendation Medal from Brig. Gen. James F. Flock, commanding general, for his heroic efforts in rescuing a handicapped motorist trapped in an overturned vehicle that struck a concrete divider.

“Captain Morzenti took action while no Japanese motorist had stopped to help. It’s just a difference in culture,” Flock said. “He did what any Marine would do. He stopped and took control of the situation and removed an individual from a situation that could have turned potentially more dangerous.”

“We didn’t know how much we could assist when we stopped, but we knew we could help. We were thinking this gentleman needed support and that was all we were concerned with,” Morzenti said.

Morzenti climbed inside the vehicle to free the trapped motorist while Army Maj. Mark Morgan, medical officer, US Forces Japan, assessed the motorist’s injuries and provided first aid.

“The motorist was trapped inside the vehicle upside down with his right foot caught under the gas pedal. The way his body was twisted and his foot stuck under the pedal, he couldn’t free himself.”

After freeing the motorist, Morgan accessed his injuries and provided basic first aid until emergency personal arrived.

“The motorist was bleeding from his head and had arm and leg injuries. We isolated his arms and legs to prevent further injury and applied pressure to stop the bleeding,” Morzenti said. “We kept watch over him until emergency personal arrived about 15 minutes after we got him out of the vehicle.”

Morzenti said that the recognition was nice, but that it was not what was important.

“It’s nice to be recognized, but my primary concern at the time was for the safety and well being of this individual. I did what I thought was right and wouldn’t think twice about doing this again,” Morzenti said. “What is most satisfying to me personally is that I was able to help someone and that was rewarding enough.”

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