26th MEU Marine saves teen

10 Aug 2010 | 26th MEU Public Affairs

A Marine with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit saved the life of a teenager who drifted more than 100 yards off the pier at North Topsail Beach Saturday Aug. 7, 2010, according to the North Topsail Beach Police Department.

Sgt. Stephen A. Gladding, 25, from Portland, Mich., with Battalion Landing Team 3/8, 26th MEU, came to the beach to go surfing early Saturday afternoon until he witnessed an individual struggling to stay above the water. Without hesitation and battling rip currents strong enough to spur warnings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Sgt. Gladding paddled out on his surf board to the individual still struggling in the water more than 200 yards from shore at North Topsail Beach. Sgt. Gladding pulled the teenage boy from the water providing him a sanctuary aboard the surf board.

"I saw him and didn't see any boats coming or anyone else jumping in so I just started paddling as hard and as fast as I could," said Gladding. "I thought I was his only hope."

Once back ashore, authorities from North Topsail Beach took the rescued teenager into their care.

The NOAA issued a Rip Current Statement at 10:49 a.m., Aug. 7, 2010, warning beach visitors that a high rip current risk was in effect until later that evening stemming from a combination of Tropical Storm Colin and astronomical tides from a new moon, according to http://www.CarolinaBeachSurfReport.com .

Questions about this incident should be sent to the 26th MEU Public Affairs Officer, Capt. Richard K. Ulsh, who can be reached at (910) 546-2540 (richard.ulsh@usmc.mil).