Marine’s quick reaction saves life

29 Apr 2011 | Lance Cpl. Bruno J. Bego 2nd Marine Logistics Group

Sometimes quick thinking and acts of bravery can change a person’s life, and sometimes it just enables another’s to continue on.

Cpl. Eduardo Valdez Rojas, from San Diego, a landing support specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 7, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), was in the right place at the right time while supervising an offload and was able to prevent a civilian contractor from being crushed, April 14, aboard Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan.

Standard procedures dictate that landing support Marines oversee the loading and unloading of cargo by civilian contractors to ensure all regulations are followed. 

Prior to starting his shift, Valdez Rojas went through every step of the process to ensure he knew exactly what was supposed to occur and be ready for any situation.

“I make sure I understand what we are going to do before we actually do it,” he said.  “I study every possibility and always think about the worst case scenario.  We work with big equipment and a lot of different people.”

Sgt. Alexander J. Tobusch, from Batavia, Ill., a landing support specialist with CLB-7, was also supervising when the accident happened.

“We saw [one of the contractors] trying to lift the pallet with a jack so the fork lift could pick it up from the plane’s ramp,” Tobusch said. 

At that time another contractor, who was standing on the other side of the ramp assisting in the offload, noticed the pallet was going to fall and tried to hold it in place.  The weight of the pallet knock the man off balance, and he fell off the ramp and landed on his back.  The 1,300-pound pallet followed him.

“I have never seen somebody move so fast,” Tobusch explained.  “He ran toward the guy and dragged him away as we saw the pallet land right where he fell.

“It seemed so natural, like he was ready for something like that already, but I would have never expected anything less than what he did that day,” he added.  “I have known him since he was a [private first class] and he has always been selfless … He always put the others before himself.”

The diligence to his duties and demonstration of courage earned Valdez Rojas a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during an award ceremony, April 26, 2011, aboard Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan.

“It is good to be recognized, but I would do it again if I had to, with or without recognition,” Valdez Rojas concluded.  “I think the best satisfaction I can get out of this experience is the fact that I helped someone live. That person is still alive and can go back to his family because I did something.”