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US soldiers spring into action to save Japanese man’s life

I Corps Army Combat Medics Spc. Sandy Rushing, left, Pfc. Jonathan Fish, center, and Sgt. Mario Ratto jumped into action to save a local man's life while in Japan this month for annual Yama Sakura drills.

COREY BEAL/U.S. ARMY PHOTO

By LEON COOK | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 14, 2016

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Three Army medics jumped into action to save a local man’s life while in Japan for the annual Yama Sakura drills.

Sgt. Mario Ratto, Spc. Sandy Rushing and Pfc. Jonathan Fish — all I Corps soldiers assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. — were exploring the city of Kumamoto on an evening pass when they noticed a crowd gathered around an elderly Japanese man lying in the street.

“There was blood on the ground, and he was just lying there face down … He was not moving at all — I thought the guy was dead,” Rushing said in an Army statement.

The soldiers said they checked the man’s injuries and rolled him onto his back, making sure to keep his spine stable.

“We then saw that his airway was obstructed — he had fallen on his face and broken some teeth and had quite a bit of blood everywhere,” Rushing said.

The medics repositioned the man’s airway and cleared the broken teeth from his mouth before he regained consciousness.

“He kept trying to fall asleep,” said Rushing, who speaks Japanese. “So, I kept telling him wake up, keep your eyes open and look at me.”

The group kept the man awake and blocked oncoming traffic until Japanese paramedics arrived.

“I thought my two soldiers responded really well,” Ratto said of Fish and Rushing. “They did everything they were supposed to do — they just performed excellently. If anything like this ever happened again, I wouldn’t think twice that my soldiers couldn’t handle it.”

Fish took the praise in stride.

“I did my job — I did what I’ve been trained to do,” he said. “I just hope the guy is [OK].”

cook.leon@stripes.com

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