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Petty Officer 1st Class Donald C. Schrader III was poolside at the Guam Marriott Resort and Spa last Saturday about 6 p.m., relaxing in the hot tub and looking forward to a dinner of ribs at Tony Roma’s. He and some friends were enjoying a few days of liberty during the USS Kitty Hawk’s recent port call to Guam when the unexpected happened.

“Me and my two buddies were just getting out of the Jacuzzi, getting ready to go, when one of them said, ‘Hey Doc, something’s really wrong with that kid over there,’” Schrader recalled in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

Schrader, a trained medical corpsman and the leading petty officer of the Kitty Hawk’s medical department, turned around to see fellow shipmates pulling the lifeless body of an 8-year-old Japanese boy from the pool.

“I ran over there immediately and announced myself as a Navy medic,” Schrader said. “You do that when you come to a scene to find out if someone there is more qualified than yourself. No one contested.”

The child, later identified as Yuki Yamada, wasn’t breathing, had no pulse, his skin was pale, lips blue and his eyes had broken blood vessels — classic symptoms of drowning.

Schrader went to work. He dug his knuckles into the boys’ breastbone, a medical procedure called a sternal rub, to try and elicit a response to pain. Yuki didn’t flinch.

Schrader then placed the boy in a prone position to drain excess water from his lungs before laying him on his back again for mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After a couple CPR cycles, Yuki began fluttering his eyes and labored to breathe, Schrader said.

“I could see his shoulders raising and all his rib muscles pulling in,” he said.

Schrader continued to rub the boy’s belly and chest, giving him a breath every five seconds and coaching Yuki through a Japanese bystander to breathe deeper and harder.

It was CPR by the book, but this was personal: Yuki reminded Schrader of his 7-year-old son, Ian. “I’ve been in the Navy 13 years. The docs always said, ‘When little ones go bad, they go bad really quick and don’t last very long,’” Schrader said. “That’s all I could think about: If this was my son, I only have this little bit of time” to save him.

Yuki was breathing on his own by the time help arrived. Schrader wrapped Yuki in a blanket, treating him for shock, and handed him off to Guam emergency medics.

Schrader later learned that Yuki was visiting Guam with other students as part of an intercultural exchange. Officials with U.S. Naval Forces Marianas said the students were with the L.A. Liberal Academy Inc. on Guam.

The next day, Yuki and his mother visited Schrader at his hotel room. “She kept saying over and over, ‘Thank you so much,’” he said, adding Yuki appears to have made a full recovery.

“I kept telling her, ‘You don’t have to thank me. I’m just glad your little boy is here.’”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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