Marines don't generally go looking for trouble, but if trouble is stupid enough to erupt near some young Marines just out trying to get a haircut, run some simple errands, and get a bite to eat at a local restaurant, trouble is going to get a swift, unplanned and surprising response.
Cpl. John Darby, Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural, and Cpl. Bradley Feldkamp had gone into town last Thursday evening near the Quantico Marine Base, where they had just graduated from a nine-week training course at the Marine Embassy Security Guard School. They had stopped at a Chick-fil-A restaurant to get something to eat. When they were finishing their meal, Dural wanted to go nearby to get a haircut for a formation that was going to happen on Monday.
They were about to leave when two errant teenage troublemakers entered the restaurant, apparently intent on robbing somebody. The teens walked up to a table and started messing with the single male sitting there. They apparently thought they were bad enough to attempt to rob the gentleman, but he pushed the two teens, one 17 and the other 14. As they fell back, they fell into a woman. Then things got hot.
The two teens began to fight with the man they had approached. Darby said that at that moment, "Our Marine brain just kicked in." Dural went to check on the woman, and Feldkamp and Darby held back a fourth man from entering the fight. The 17-year-old then pulled a knife. Well, he shouldn't have done that. Dural saw it, and his instinct and training from the Embassy Security Guard School he had just graduated from took over. He grabbed the teenager's wrist that held the knife and twisted so hard that the blade broke away from the handle and slid across the floor. Darby quickly picked up the blade and handed it to a Chick-fil-A employee. At that, the two teens fled the building, but not without absconding with the first man's cell phone. When it was all over, Dural went and got his haircut.
The teens were caught shortly afterward by a sheriff's deputy and were booked on assault and battery and robbery charges. The 17-year-old is also being charged with a felony wounding charge.
The local news covered the story, and the Marine Corps acted swiftly, awarding Cpl. Darby, Cpl. Feldkamp, and Lance Cpl. Dural with Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their actions. Lt. Col. Matthew McNerney, Executive Officer for Marine Base Security, and Gunnery Sgt. Aric Lonchar, chief instructor at the Marine Embassy Security Guard School, presented the medals last Thursday. This was fortunate for the three Marines, as, later that day, Darby and Feldkamp departed for their new post at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. Dural leaves this week for the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.
Well, what can we say? Those two teens had the wrong ambitions that afternoon, and they found themselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. Lance Cpl. Dural, Cpl. Darby, and Cpl. Feldkamp happened to be at the right place at the right time for the innocent victims and bystanders at that Chick-fil-A. They had the training and that unique Marine attitude, and they brought both to bear that afternoon.
Bravo Zulu, Marines. We hope that your postings as Marine Embassy Guards will be fulfilling, and we know that you will do the Corps and the country proud in carrying out your new duties. OooRah!