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Marine security guards in Vietnam save young boy from drowning

Philip Athey

Two Marine sergeants were off-duty in Phú Quốc, Vietnam, when they saw a crowded boat flip over in the river. (Karen/Flickr/CC 2.0)
Two Marine security guards stationed at the U.S. Embassy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, were off-duty touring the country in early January when panic in the water spurred them into action.

Marine Sgt. Carey De Freitas and Sgt. Justin Searcy had been spending the day on the water, visiting a nearby city of Phú Quốc, Vietnam, when they saw a crowded boat flip over in the river.

The nearby boat had capsized and a 10-year-old boy was still missing. After 10 minutes in the water, a local man brought the boy to the surface. That’s when De Freitas took action in performing CPR.

“I needed to make sure this kid survived because the last thing you ever want to hear is a mother crying hysterically ... because she thinks her son is gone forever,” the Marine said.

After about 10 minutes of CPR De Freitas was exhausted and started to lose hope. But the cries of the boy’s parents and a faint pulse kept him motivated until emergency services arrived to rush the child to the hospital.

‘I needed to make sure this kid survived’

It had started out as a normal afternoon until a nearby boat hit what looked like a whirlpool, started spinning then eventually sank, De Freitas said.

“The bow of the boat was going into the water and we were unsure what was happening,” De Freitas told Marine Corps Times in a phone interview late March.

Immediately the two Marines went to notify the captain of the boat they were on that they had rescue the people in trouble.

“So I just pulled the people that were closest to our boat onto the boat, I took them into the cabin and just directed the rest … to take care of the little kids,” De Freitas said.

After two minutes they saw someone still frantic in the water. A family’s son was still missing, the Marines learned.

Searcy jumped into the water to start looking, while De Freitas directed those on his boat to start looking from the top deck.

After 10 minutes a Vietnamese man surfaced with the 10-year-old kid upside down.

De Freitas immediately ran to the captain, telling him he was CPR certified and needed to immediately provide aid to the child if there was any hope of survival.

The face and cries of the boy’s parents were burned into De Freitas’ mind while he performed the lifesaving procedure.

The boy ultimately survived the incident and is at home rehabbing from the serious injuries he received, De Freitas said.

“It’s probably one of the best feelings ever,” De Freitas said when he heard that the child survived the incident.


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