CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Wetter, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for the marksmanship training division with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, June 30, by Brig. Gen. Jason Woodworth, the commanding general of MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton, for the heroism he displayed in December 2020 when he saved a family from a burning vehicle.
“The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the only medal you can get in the entire Department of the Navy for acts of heroism without being in a combat situation,” said Woodworth, during the ceremony.
In December 2020, Wetter was on what he thought would be a typical drive home when he witnessed a gas can fall out of a nearby truck. The can became lodged underneath the car in front of him – the car of the Hurley family. Sparks began to fly underneath the car and a fire immediately erupted.
“Immediately, I was like I need to help them any way I can.” Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Wetter, marksmanship training division SNCO in charge
“All I could think at first was what the heck happened?” said Wetter. “Immediately, I was like I need to help them any way I can.”
The driver of the car, Anthony Hurley, slammed the brakes and pulled over, causing Wetter to do the same. Wetter ran to the car and began analyzing the situation. The extinguisher Wetter brought with him from his vehicle was no match for the fire, which at this point had too much fuel.
Hurley and his wife had already escaped from the burning car, but were unable to get their young daughter out of her car seat. The father, Anthony, was already trying to get the child out with no success. At that point, Wetter climbed into the burning car and tried to unbuckle the seat belt, but to no avail. He then grabbed his pocket knife and cut the child free of the car seat.
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Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez
U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Wetter, the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for the marksmanship training division with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, waits to receive a Navy and Marine Corps Medal from Brig. Gen. Jason Woodworth and Sgt. Maj. Matthew Hackett, the commanding general and sergeant major of MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton, during an award ceremony on Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 30, 2022. Wetter was awarded for the heroism he displayed in December 2020 to save a family when he saw a car burst into flames on the side of a road during his drive home. Wetter climbed into the backseat of the burning car and used a pocket knife to free a child from her car seat.
Wetter's entire unit attended his ceremony, along with friends and family. Most importantly to Wetter, the Hurleys were also there to watch him receive the Marine Corps’ highest non-combat award for heroism.
“All I can say is I'm glad he was there that day, because he saved our firstborn,” said Anthony Hurley. “She wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for his heroic actions.”