PARRIS ISLAND, SC, UNITED STATES --
On Aug. 7, 2023, Cpl. Aidan J. MeylerMcauliffe, a Marine with Service Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his actions while saving the life of a local woman near Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Meyler graduated from the Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival course on June 23, 2023, where he learned water rescue techniques. On July 23, 2023, his training was put to the test.
Meyler works at the small engine repair shop on Parris Island. While off duty, he works as a security guard in Hilton Head, where he often helps around the marina. On the day of the incident, a storm broke out while working aboard a ferry off the shore of Hilton Head Island.
“I have been fishing my whole life, and I had never seen a storm that bad,” said Meyler. “You couldn’t see at all.”
The crew struggled to steer the boat back to port when they noticed a woman floating unresponsive in the water. They steered the boat toward her.
“Once we started getting close, I realized that no one really knew what to do,” said Meyler. “I just started directing people.”
They attempted to throw a lifesaver out to the woman, but the wind blew it back. Meyler said he knew it wasn’t going to work. He ran to a dry spot in the boat, took off his shoes, and emptied his pockets.
“I ran to the back of the boat and jumped in,” said Meyler. “I found her and swam to her.”
When Myler reached the woman and turned her around, she was fading in and out of consciousness.
“The woman was purple,” said Meyler. “I have never seen a human being that color.”
Meyler grabbed the woman and swam back toward the boat with her.
“As I was swimming, I thought, ‘This is significantly easier than the MCIWS course.’” said Meyler. “The Marine Corps training prepared me for this.”
Meyler soon got her back to the boat, where the boat’s crew pulled them out of the water. He then began his primary assessment of the woman.
“She was hypothermic and hypoxic,” said Meyler. “I knew I needed to act quickly.”
Meyler took the woman to the driest spot on the boat, dried her off, and covered her up with the shirts of some of the passengers. He directed nearby passengers to stay by the woman and keep her extremities warm.
“The whole time, I made conversational small talk with her,” said Meyler. “One thing you’re trained to do is get as much medical information as you can.”
Meyler provided care for the woman for about 45 minutes before they landed at the nearest dock. From there, Emergency Medical Services took over. Due to Cpl. Meyler‘s training and split-second decision-making, she survived.
Meyler was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal by the Headquarters and Service Battalion Commanding Officer, Col. Gregory R. Curtis.
“Cpl. Meyler is a great example of a Marine,” said Curtis. “As a representation of the Marine Corps, his actions are one of those things that we strive for.”