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NASIC Airmen save boy from drowning

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel Earick
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Two NASIC airmen saved the life of a child while at the Mad River in Eastwood Metro Park in Dayton, Ohio, July 21.

Capt. Dillon Buck and First Lt. Martin Gilligan, both members of the Aircraft Analysis Squadron, were spending the afternoon at the park for a promotion ceremony when Gilligan scanned the nearby water and noticed that something was “off.”

Gilligan said he saw people in the water who looked distressed and as he neared the group, a man and a child made it to shore but the child started crying and asking where his brother was.

“I spotted the boy floating chest up, no life vest, and appearing unconscious in the water about 25 yards from where we were standing,” said Gilligan. “I jumped into the water swimming head down as fast as I could.”

Buck was right alongside Gilligan and said he, too, quickly realized there was a boy in danger in the river.

“I noticed a few items had fallen out of the kayak and were stuck in the eddies around the rapids. I started getting ready to help get the items when I realized that one of the 'items' was actually a person,” said Buck. “[Gilligan] and I ran down to the river and jumped in, but with the strong currents the river was moving us and the boy around, and it was difficult for us to get a good view of the boy from within the water.”

Luckily, other members of the Aircraft Analysis Squadron started acting as spotters for Buck and Gilligan.

“Thankfully, at this point the rest of the squadron had come over to the bank of the river and were acting as spotters, telling Marty and I where the boy was so we were able to get to him,” said Buck.

“I made it to the boy and grabbed him below his arm,” said Gilligan. “I was sure to try and keep his face up and out of the water, and side-stroked to the island of rocks located in the center of the river.”

It was here the situation seemed like it might take a turn for the worse.

"The boy was completely unconscious, and I was afraid that we were too late,” said Gilligan.

Both Buck and Gilligan decided that they need to start life-saving first aid.

"Immediately after performing the first rescue breath, a facial reaction, cough, and muscle movements exhibited signs of life,” said Gilligan. “We noticed these signs begin to fade away, but fortunately after only a few seconds of worry, the signs returned, and the boy regained consciousness."

“Once he spit up a little water, we sat him up and encouraged him to cough to clear his lungs. We then started asking him some questions to gauge his mental state,” said Buck. “He was definitely still in shock but getting better every minute.”

With the immediate threat over, Buck, Gilligan and the boy waited for the paramedics to arrive in a raft to take them back to shore.

Though they've been hailed by the child’s family and Air Force leadership for their actions, Buck and Gilligan refuse to take sole credit.

“This was not a one or two-man job. Without the folks on the riverbank directing us where to go, we might have spent another 15-30 seconds looking for him,” said Buck. “When you're in the water, getting spun around by the currents and the boy is getting thrown around too, it's hard to keep track of everything. And without people on the rocks to pull us up, it might have taken Marty and I another 15-30 seconds just to get out of the water. Every second counts in that situation.”

“The whole event felt unreal. I consider all of it a miracle that the boy’s life was saved, and attribute it to God,” said Gilligan.