Idaho native awarded for saving fellow Marine's life
By ALISON GENE SMITH | The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho | Published: May 4, 2014
OKINAWA, JAPAN — A Jerome man is being recognized as a life-saver along with two of his fellow Marines for saving the life of another man while stationed at Camp Hansen in Okinawa, Japan.
Lance Cpl. Steward Bach was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal April 26 at Camp Hansen, as a result of meritorious actions.
Cpl. James Kasper, of Canyon Lake, Texas, and Sgt. Blake Wallace also received the award. All three provided critical medical care April 18 to Staff Sgt. Francisco Campos, who suffered a heart attack during the three-mile run portion of a physical fitness test.
Bach said Thursday he was headed to work for the day when he noticed other Marines doing the three-mile run. One person was moving slower than the others.
“I kind of watched him a little, I noticed he was going up the hill slowly,” Bach said.
The man began walking, reached out to grab a railing and collapsed.
Bach ran over and asked Campos if he was OK.
“I realized he was unconscious,” he said. “That’s when I started doing what they teach us in the Marine Corps.”
Campos’ pulse was faint and his breathing slowed. Bach flagged down two passing cars and several people began to assist.
“When I arrived, he had no pulse, so I started CPR,” Cpl. James Kasper, a field artillery fire control man with told a military news service. “Sgt. Wallace showed up shortly after I began CPR, and he took over chest compressions while I provided rescue breathing.”
The Marines started chest compressions and continued for about 10 to 15 minutes until medical staff arrived and took over.
Bach, a 2010 Jerome High School graduate, said he learned to tell when people are in physical distress through his time on the high school football team and later as a trainer at Gold’s Gym in Twin Falls.
“Coach Krumm would tell us signs that people were struggling,” he said. “Not sweating is a sign.”
Although he didn’t know Campos before, Bach said he appeared to be in good physical shape. His slow pace was odd.
“You don’t see Marines walking like that,” he said. “Once he walked, I knew there was something going on.”
Bach said he didn’t think much about the seriousness of the situation and just reacted.
The Marines credited the knowledge of emergency medical treatment they used on Campos to the training they received in boot camp, Marine Combat Training and the Combat Lifesaver Course.
“They give you situations you have to react to,” Bach said. “There are NCOs (non commissioned officers) that do the same thing when deployed, but bullets are flying over them.”
Bach said he learned CPR and how to recognize heat stroke when he was a trainer.
At the award ceremony, Bach was able to meet Campos’ wife and other family members.
“I don’t think I will ever be able to thank any of you enough for what you did,” said Campos’ wife, Danielle. “When you saved him, you saved my life, too.”
“It was a little unexpected,” Bach said of the award. “Honestly, I wasn’t expecting to get anything from it. I just glad that he was OK and he was making it through. We were worried about him.”
Campos was in a coma for several days but awoke a few days before the award was given.
“It really helped to put in perspective how important one person’s actions can be,” Bach said. “It’s one thing seeing them lying on the ground, then taken away in the ambulance. But seeing the family who could have been affected, it really put into perspective how important it was.”
Lance Cpl. Matt Myers, of Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System contributed to this report.