CAMP LEJEUNE, NC --
Most people go their entire lives wondering if they have ever made a difference. U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Diaz, a Miami native and rifleman with 2d Battalion, 8th Marines, 2d Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, can definitively say that he has.
Diaz was driving to Camp Lejeune from his home in Miami while on leave to check in at 2/8 from his previous unit, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force. Driving on a narrow two-lane road near Atkinson, North Carolina, he came across a motor vehicle collision that left a car stuck in a ditch with another vehicle immobile in the middle of the road. Without hesitation he sprung into action, finding a mother and three children in the vehicle still on the road.
Diaz grabbed his medical bag from his car and immediately started administering first aid on the most injured of the group, a six-year-old with a laceration to the face. He pulled him out of the car, treating the wound and removing glass and debris from the injury. The mother was dazed and stuck in the driver seat but otherwise appeared fine. He then retrieved an unconscious child from the back seat, rubbing his sternum to coax him back to consciousness, throwing up as he regained consciousness. Diaz placed him into the recovery position as Emergency Medical Services arrived on scene, with which he made a proper handoff of care until the family was airlifted to a hospital.
“When I ran up, my mind was blank,” recalled Diaz. “I was like a robot going back to my training.”
At CBIRF, Diaz was trained extensively in vehicle extrication as well as being a combat lifesaver. The two skill sets enabled him to save the family’s life. Diaz also spent much of his childhood around EMS personnel.
“I called my mother afterward,” said Diaz. “She said that my entire life led up to that moment. My mom recalled that I always cared about saving people. Being a rifleman is the opposite, we are trained to shoot and kill. She knew CBIRF was the perfect place to help people. My mother remembered how deadset I was on leaving at a specific time to get to my new unit, not getting more sleep like she wanted me to. It was like an act of God, being there in the right place at the right time.”
Continuing his journey, Diaz arrived at 2/8 and promptly notified the Officer of the Day of the situation that unfolded and his interaction with law enforcement. As a result, Diaz was recognized for his actions in saving the family when he was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
1st Sgt. Jared McManus, the Fox Company, 2/8 1st Sgt., has seen Diaz exemplify the Marine Corps ethos since he’s been at the unit.
“No one was looking, he could have simply driven by but he didn’t,” said McManus. “He stopped and he performed what he did. Having that within a company, and within his platoon I think speaks volumes on his initiative.”
McManus recognizes that Diaz is an individual that sets the example. Diaz is a Marine no matter what, and the skills that he and every other Marine learns are not just for the battlefield, but to be able to help others.
“I always think of it from the casualty’s standpoint,” said Diaz. “It's not a good time being the casualty. The last thing you want is just to sit there and not know what's going on.”
Diaz takes the time to teach his Marines about casualty care every chance he gets. On the last range he conducted, Diaz was a part of the casualty evacuation team. Although being on standby, Diaz took the time to explain different casualty care methods to Marines even outside of his squad.
“At the end of the day it's not a myth that you are a Marine 24/7,” said Diaz. “Regardless of whether you work in the field or in the office, everyone should always strive to be a good person, especially out in town.”