Photo Information

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Frank Donovan, the Commanding General of 2d Marine Division, addresses the audience after awarding Sgt. Danny McDonald, scout sniper with 2d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal at Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 17, 2021. McDonald was awarded for his selfless actions in Surf City, N.C., May 4, 2019, where he risked his own life to save a 10-year-old child from drowning. The child was caught in a rip current that carried him approximately 300 feet from shore.(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Elijah Abernathy)

Photo by Cpl. Elijah Abernathy

2d Marine Division Marine Awarded Highest Non-Combat Honor for Heroic Actions

18 Mar 2021 | Story by Cpl. Elijah Abernathy 2nd Marine Division

DVIDS - News - Sgt. McDonald Receives the Navy and Marine Corps Medal

While at Surf City Beach, N.C., on May 4, 2019, Sgt. Danny P. McDonald, a Duncanville, Texas, native and scout sniper currently with 2d Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (V26), 2d Marine Division (2d MARDIV), went above and beyond the call of duty.

McDonald, who was a Corporal at the time, was at Surf City Beach enjoying the early summer weather when he heard a frantic cry for help coming from the water. A 10-year-old boy was struggling to stay afloat as he was caught in a fierce rip current that carried him away from shore. After noticing the struggling boy, McDonald quickly reacted to the situation and swam to the boy caught in the strong rip current that was carrying them both further out to sea.

“I dove into the water before I even knew what I was doing.” McDonald said, “I reacted on instinct.”

Upon reaching the boy, McDonald was able to gain control and following a quick assessment of the boy’s condition, McDonald realized that the boy was also suffering from a seizure. He placed the boy across his chest and began swimming and fighting against the strong current back to shore. After swimming for what seemed like hours, physically exhausted, and struggling to stay afloat, McDonald reached the shore and pulled the boy out of the ocean. Another beach goer, who happened to be a U.S. Navy Corpsman witnessed McDonald rescue the boy and helped provide emergency medical aid when McDonald pulled the boy to shore. Recognizing that there was a group of Marines nearby, McDonald assertively told them to call 9-1-1, while the corpsman continued to provide Eyewitness accounts stated that the boy would’ve likely drowned had McDonald not taken action.

“I didn’t put that much thought into it. I knew I needed to get him and make sure he was OK.” McDonald said, “I just treated it like any other day.”

For the lifesaving actions that occurred, McDonald was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on March 17, 2021. The award signified the awardee risked their own life during the course of an event and distinguished themselves in a way that did not involve actual conflict with an enemy force.

“It’s honestly bigger than something I ever could have imagined. It’s very humbling and I’m super honored to receive this award.” Said McDonald.

McDonald’s leadership went on to say that the quick and decisive actions that McDonald took showed what it means to not only be a Marine, but also a hero. They also said his actions should motivate other Marines to emulate his character and be used as an example as a model Marine.

“Sgt. McDonald is poster Marine,” said Capt. Walter Graves, the company commander for Weapons Company, V26, 2d MARDIV. “His actions exemplify what it means to be a Marine. The initiative and fearlessness is exactly what we want all Marines to do and Sgt. McDonald is that Marine.”

Maj. Gen. Francis L. Donovan, Commanding General for 2d MARDIV, said to the family of the boy and to those who witnessed his selfless act of heroism, “McDonald is a true hero. McDonald undoubtedly deserves the award. I couldn’t have asked for a better example of what it means to be a Marine.”