- A Marine with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team received a top award for heroism.
- Sgt. Zachary Parsons received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for saving the lives of three children.
- The award is presented to Marines and Sailors who heroically risk their own lives to save others.
A US Marine serving with the Blue Angels flight demonstration team received the sea services’ highest non-combat award for swimming out to save three children swept from the beach in a rip current.
Sgt. Zachary Parsons, a member of the maintenance team for the Blue Angels’ C-130J Super Hercules known as Fat Albert, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal last week, Task & Purpose first reported.
The prestigious medal is awarded to any Sailor or Marine who “distinguishes himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy” and is higher than the bronze star. For acts of lifesaving or attempted lifesaving, the action “must have been performed at the risk of one’s own life,” the action states.
In Parsons’ case, he was awarded the medal for heroic actions taken in May 2019.
During a day at the beach, rip currents, which can be deadly, swept three children out to sea, around 500 feet from shore.
“Running to help the children, the father found himself overwhelmed by the surf and called for help,” the Blue Angels wrote in a Facebook post. “Sgt. Parsons, who had been spending the day at the beach, heard the father’s call and immediately jumped into action.”
After asking his wife to call 911, he raced to the water, grabbing a boogie board on the way. The Blue Angels said that Persons, without hesitation, ignored the dangerously high surf and rip currents and made his way out to where the children were.
Working with another person responding to the crisis, he helped get the kids to emergency services personnel who arrived on the scene not long after he did.
“Sgt. Parsons’ heroism that day serves as a testament to the deep-rooted desire to serve and protect that represent the core values of the United States Military,” the Blue Angels said.
Parsons is proud of his service with the Blue Angels. “I’ve always admired the Blue Angels since the start of my military career. I never thought it would be possible to make the team, so being a part of all of this now is just an honor,” he said, according to the Blue Angels.