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Marines and sailors climbing Mount Fuji on Sunday found themselves involved in rescuing a Japanese woman from the cold mountainside.

The group of 80 assigned to the 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, were about 45 minutes from the summit on a morning marked by fog and a cold wind when two Japanese men appeared carrying a woman in her mid-20s down the mountain trail, said Marine Sgt. Danny Patterson, of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Consolidated Public Affairs Office.

One of the men spoke a little English, Patterson said. As a Navy corpsman examined the woman, the man explained they had spent a cold night on the mountain.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Gilbert R. Romain said the woman had a mild case of hypothermia that would worsen the longer she remained on the mountain.

Patterson said Romain told him: “We knew we had to act fast or within 30 minutes her symptoms could have changed to severe hypothermia.”

Several of the Marines and Romain abandoned their hike and assisted the woman to a nearby first-aid station.

“We took off our jackets and wool caps and put them over her,” Lance Cpl. Joseph F. Schnieder told Patterson. “We also gave her food and water. We gave her everything we could to help.”

About that time, the rest of their company returned from the trail, abandoning the final push to the summit because of bad weather.

The Marines then decided to strap the woman into a stretcher they obtained at the first aid station and formed a human chain down a rocky stretch of the trail.

“Marines and sailors would continue to go to the front of the chain to keep the stretcher moving until they reached a service road,” Patterson said. “Once they reached the road, which was still almost a 45-degree incline, three Marines ran for almost a mile-and-a-half to the bottom to get a vehicle to transport the woman.

“The park officials said they couldn’t get a vehicle up to her, so they called in an ambulance to wait until the company got to the bottom with her.”

It had taken more than three hours to reach the bottom and another hour wait for the ambulance, Patterson said.

While there, the sun came out and the woman slowly recovered, he said.

“Although the Marines didn’t even get the woman’s name, they were glad to help out,” Patterson said.


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