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Marine grunt being considered for award after saving 3 from fiery car crash
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
Despite the car being on fire, McDonell quickly evacuated the three passengers from the flaming wreckage, according to 1st Lt. Dan Linfante, a Corps spokesman. Now McDonnel's unit intends to recommend that his heroism be recognized, though it has not yet decided on exactly what final award will be, Linfante said.
"McDonell displayed extreme courageousness and selflessness in responding to the car accident," Lt. Col. Gabriel Diana, battalion commander, told Task & Purpose in a statement. "I know I speak for the collective when I say that 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment could not be more proud of Cpl. McDonell's actions or more thankful for the lives his actions likely saved."
Diana said he was not surprised by McDonell's actions, given his training and instincts as a Marine.
Along with others who stopped to help, Linfante said, McDonell treated the victims until medics arrived on the scene. Additionally, Linfante said McDonnell accompanied victims to the hospital and helped comfort them and their families until he finally left many hours later.
"It was a situation that just happened," said McDonell. "Anyone could have done what I did. I was just the first person to act on it."
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
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Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
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About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.