“That’s what Marines do:” Marines recruits on heroic rescue in Connecticut River

Hampden County

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A group of Marine Corps recruits and recruiters rescued a man who was in distress in the Connecticut River Saturday morning.

The situation could have ended very differently, according to the West Springfield Fire Department.

But the Marines say, they were just doing what they had been trained to do.

“That’s why you join the Marines, you want to make a difference in the world,” said Staff Sergeant Garrick Pelletier.

A group of Marine Corps recruits were training on the bike path on Wayside Avenue in West Springfield when, “We heard some faint cries for help down from the river.”

Staff Sgt. Pelletier said, “We went down to investigate and saw two individuals. One was really struggling and barely able to stay afloat.”

West Springfield Fire Lieutenant CJ Bartone told 22News two people were swimming across the Connecticut River from the Chicopee side to the West Springfield side, when one man began struggling because of the fast-moving current.

“Two of us without hesitation, just acted on what we knew we needed to do, which was get some help out there to him.” U.S. Marine Daniel Ulich said.

The marines swam out to the man, and saved him using a cooler as a flotation device that the recruits helped get to them.

What Sgt. Pelletier said he remembers from training, “Improvise, adapt and overcome – that’s what Marines do.”

When the Marines got the man out of the water, first responders were there waiting. Lt. Bartone said if the recruits weren’t there “the outcome would have been drastically different.”

The man who was saved by the Marines was taken to the hospital, but he’s expected to be okay.

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