Valiant Marine trio save the day at a Virginia Chick-fil-A

It seemed like a quiet Saturday afternoon in Stafford County, Virginia on the 1st April, also known as April Fool’s Day in some parts of the world.

Three Marines, namely Cpl. John Darby, Cpl. Bradley Feldkamp, and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural, who had stepped out to get their haircuts, decided to stop by the nearby Chick-fil-A for a meal.

The men had finished their training to become Marine Security Guards at Marine Corps Base Quantico a few weeks ago and were awaiting their visas and flights to their posts overseas.

US Marine Corps photo

At the Chick-fil-A outlet, they noticed a man being confronted by two young men. What began as an argument devolved into an altercation resulting in one of the assailants colliding with a woman standing nearby.

This caused one of the Marines, Dural, to approach the woman to make sure she was unharmed.

By that time, one of the young assailants had pulled out a knife.

When Dural saw the weapon, his Marine Security Guard training on defensive tactics and combat kicked in.  He immediately grabbed the base of the assailant’s hand in which he held the knife.  As Dural was twisting the assailant's wrist, he was able to overpower him and seize control of the weapon.

The pressure applied by Dural was so considerable that the knife snapped into two pieces; the handle, and blade flew into the air and then slid across the floor.

Dural then signaled his fellow Marine, John Darby, to seize the blade.

Darby, who was speaking to the woman who was pushed during the scuffle, immediately stepped on the blade and kicked it away from the two attackers.

In parallel, the third Marine, Bradley Feldkamp, prevented a fourth person from joining the ensuing brawl between Dural and the two teenagers.

Realizing that they had been overpowered and outmaneuvered, the two miscreants fled from the scene, but they managed to steal their victim's mobile phone.

All of this occurred in a matter of minutes and was covered by a military news outlet called Task and Purpose.

Law enforcement officials arrived at the location almost immediately to gather descriptions of the assailants from all witnesses. 

After a detailed survey of the area, the police observed two males matching the description provided by witnesses. In time, the two suspects were apprehended. 

They identified as juveniles aged 17 and 14.

The stolen phone was recovered from one of the assailants and returned to the victim.

Criminal complaints for assault, battery, robbery, and attempted felony wounding were filed against the 17-year-old.

Criminal complaints for assault, battery, and robbery were filed against the 14-year-old.

Both were detained at the Juvenile Detention Center and their court appearances were scheduled later.

But for the three brave Marines, the victim would probably be either dead or very seriously injured with a possible life-altering wound.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s lauded the three Marines for their valor.

The three heroes received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal at a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group’s headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. They were also lauded by their superiors and colleagues.

Like most heroes, the Marines made no fuss about their acts of bravery. They said they didn’t deserve medals or blandishments. since they were doing their duty like any other Marine would in a similar situation.

Now a bit about the heroes.

Feldkamp said he decided to become a Marine Security Guard because he wanted to help people in other countries during natural disasters and other emergencies. A trip to earthquake-ravaged Haiti during his school days made him realize that helping people brought him satisfaction.

Darby, who joined the Marine Corps in 2018, said that graduating from Marine Security Guard training made him feel that he was part of “the good fight”.

Dural, who was initially in the infantry, said being a Marine Security Guard will allow him to be the calm face of the Marine Corps during crises overseas. He noted that whenever there is an emergency in a foreign country, Marines are often the first U.S. service members that locals encounter.

“I want to be that strong person that anybody can trust. I was like that for my sisters when I grew up with them and I would love to do that for the rest of the world,” said Dural.

Darby and Feldkamp are expected to leave for the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria; while Dural is to be posted at the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.

The heroes managed to turn April Fool’s Day into Braveheart’s Day.

This incident will remind everyone of the occurrences last March when two restauranters Louie Suljovic and Cazim Suljovic endured serious injuries while saving a 61-year-old woman from being attacked and robbed outside their NY pizzeria.

It will also remind everyone of the brave Army veteran Richard Fierro whose fearless actions saved lives at the nightclub in Colorado late last year.

Let’s not forget the bravery of security guards Manny Resto and Danny Baham last month that prevented what could have been a deadly shootout at a Florida nightclub.

What was remarkable these heroes didn't seek the spotlight, nor did they overstate their acts of real courage.

In an era of the self-centered and the self-absorbed, the conduct and attitude of these men are exemplary

The consequence depiction in action films is that in such situations the focus often lies solely on valor and heroism. What is often forgotten is at the core of heroism is compassion -- i.e., empathy for the defenseless in peril.

The actions of the men saved time, money, and most importantly considerable hardships for a victim. It is said that if you touch one life, you have touched several. This is exactly what the Marines did.

We must hence celebrate these men as humanitarians as much as heroes 

It is commendable that the heroes were honored by the Marine Corps. Perhaps the elected leaders in Virginia and in D.C. and join in to honor the Bravehearts.

It would be remarkable if these real-life heroes are celebrated, rewarded, and awarded like the stars of showbiz or sports.

The coverage across all media needs to be more extensive and commemorative.

Perhaps this celebration of bravery and selflessness will lead to some form of unification and elevation of its spirits in these divisive times.

Above all, a society that celebrates and incentivizes heroism and altruism encourages and perpetuates heroism and altruïsm.

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