Kadena civilian workers rescue drowning Okinawan woman
18th Wing PAO | .
published: September 19, 2016
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- There are a lot of dangers when it comes to extreme sports, even more so when it comes to ocean sports.
Pat Allbritton and Paul Love, Air Force civilian employees from the 18th Civil Engineer Group on Kadena Air Base witnessed how quickly things can go wrong, Aug. 29, 2016, when they saved a local from drowning.
“We were walking along the seawall, and saw a surfer who appeared to be in trouble from the waves,” said Love. “A wave came in and knocked her off her surf board, then another slammed her against the sea wall.”
Allbritton and Love, prior Air Force enlisted, rushed down to the lower level of the sea wall to help.
“The swells were about six-feet high, coming in about every six seconds,” said Allbritton “We could see she was under the water and in distress.”
Allbritton laid down on the lower level of the seawall and stuck his arm out, trying to grab ahold of the woman while Love held onto his belt so Allbritton could reach further without falling in himself. They were able to grab her and pull her out, she had a two inch gash on her forehead, her right eyelid was blue and her eye was bloody.
We then administered first aid, Allbritton explained.
After carrying the woman to the upper level of the sea wall, Allbritton ran to the nearest dive shop to call for emergency medical responders.
“We’re taught to take care of each other, and when I saw her, I thought about my own daughter and granddaughter, the only thing that went through my mind was that we needed to get her out of the ocean as quickly as possible. “ Allbritton said.
The two were coined by Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice-commander on Sept. 13, 2016, at the Schilling Community Center on Kadena Air Base for their accomplishment and selfless actions.
“It was just the natural thing to do,” said Love. “It didn’t really hit until people started saying we saved her life because we were just trying to help somebody out of a bad spot.”
According to the two, the experience has been very humbling – they don’t consider themselves heroes, just two people who did the right thing.
“Saving a life is an awesome feeling. People were congratulating us, but to me it just felt like saving another person was the only thing we could do,” Allbritton said.