Marine 1st Lt. John Dixon saved five people from drowning at a beach in Okinawa, Japan, in a heroic act the day after Thanksgiving.
Dixon was walking with his wife Nov. 24 on a seawall in Okinawa when Japanese police, who were trying to find out if some swimmers were in danger, managed to grab his attention.
As soon as Dixon heard screams coming from the ocean, he jumped in while Japanese police called for backup, Marine Corps Times reports.
“That’s when I knew something needed to happen,” Dixon said. “I just jumped in the water and started going out to them as deep as I could without losing my own footing.”
Dixon used his Marine Corps training to avoid being swept away in the ocean, but did not have any extra background experience as a lifeguard.
He threw a life preserver to one of the men and dragged him out of the surf.
“Every once in awhile, you would kind of slip, but I would just lean back toward shore as far as I could and just keep reeling them in as hard as I could,” Dixon said. “There were times where I could feel myself being pulled in the opposite direction out to open water. That’s when I would just readjust my feet and keep trying to do backward stepping as hard as I could until I got them in.”
He continued to fight the current as he pulled the swimmers to safety, in addition to a Japanese police officer who had tried to rescue the swimmers but got caught up in the riptide.
Three of the four original swimmers were American college students, and the fourth was a South Korean woman.
Positive news from the Marine presence in Japan has been somewhat lacking as of late. U.S. military officials have only just allowed troops to drink again after an intoxicated Marine struck an elderly Okinawan’s vehicle while driving a truck.
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