Three newly-minted Marine Security Guards were honored on Thursday morning for stopping two suspects from stabbing another person with a knife at a Virginia Chick-fil-A, a Corps spokesman said.

Cpl. John Darby, Cpl. Bradley Feldkamp, and Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal at a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group’s headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, said Gunnery Sgt. Matthew J. Bragg, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group.

All three Marines had completed their training to become Marine Security Guards on March 9 at Marine Corps Base Quantico and were waiting for visas and flights to their posts at the time of the April 1 incident, which unfolded at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in North Stafford, Virginia, Bragg said.

The Stafford County Sheriff’s Office credits the three Marines with breaking up a fight after two teenagers, who were 14 and 17 years old, allegedly attacked another teenager. During the fight, one of the assailants pulled out a knife.

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“Thank you to the hero Marines who stepped up in order to protect the victim,” a sheriff’s office news release says. “Without you, this altercation could have been a lot worse.”

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, the three Marines recounted what happened at the restaurant.

Dural said that he and the two other Marines decided to stop by the Chick-fil-A before getting haircuts.

That’s when the two teenagers became aggressive with the third person, said Darby, who added that the two of them seemed out of place from the rest of the customers in the restaurant.

After the three of them got into a brief argument, one of them knocked into a woman, so Dural went over to check on her.

“That’s when I turned around, they were still tussling, and one of the smaller ones pulled out a knife,” Dural said. “I saw the knife and I just reacted.”

Faced with an armed attacker, Dural’s Marine Security Guard training on defensive tactics instantly kicked in and he grabbed the base of the teenager’s wrist to disarm him.

“I had my left hand on basically the back of the blade and the top of the hilt of the knife,” Dural said. “When I was pushing down and twisting, since I had the blade basically in my hand – the back of the blade – when I was twisting it, I guess I put so much pressure down there I was able to snap the knife. Once I snapped the knife, that’s how I was able to yell, “Darby, grab the blade!’”

Marine Corps photo
Marine Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural snapped this knife in half during a fight with an assailant. (Photo courtesy of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.)

Darby had been speaking with the woman whom Dural had initially checked on to make sure she was calling the police, and then he saw that Dural was trying to get the knife away from one of the assailants.

“Honestly, by the time I got there were four hands on one knife,” Darby said. “I didn’t even really think of grabbing the knife like he was. I was more concerned about keeping the knife away from him.”

When the knife snapped, the blade flew into the air and then slid across the floor, Darby said.

Darby immediately stepped on the blade, got it away from the two attackers as quickly as possible, and gave it to a restaurant manager.

While all of this was going on, Feldkamp prevented a fourth person from joining the scuffle between Dural and the two teenagers.

As soon as the knife snapped, the two attackers realized that they were no longer armed, Dural said.

“I was like: Y’all need to get out of here,” Dural said. 

The two teenagers ran out of a back door, but police were already on the scene and they were quickly arrested, said Dural, who still managed to get his haircut after the incident.

The names of the two teenagers who were arrested are not being released to the media because they are juveniles, said Ryan Wilber, a spokesman for the Stafford County 

Darby credited the three Marines’ training for their ability to respond to the situation so quickly. Recruits learn during boot camp that if one person is in trouble, it’s everyone’s responsibility to help.

“As soon as Lance Cpl. Dural directly involved himself in the situation, I felt like I had no other choice but to get as close as possible and help in any way that I could.”

Dural said he didn’t feel he deserved a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal because he expects any other Marine would have done the same thing in that situation.

All three of the Marines will soon go to their posts overseas, Gunnery Sgt. Bragg said. Darby and Feldkamp are expected to leave on Thursday for the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria; and Dural is scheduled to leave next week for the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo.

Feldkamp said he decided to become a Marine Security Guard because he wanted to help people in other countries during natural disasters and other emergencies.

“I went to Haiti when I was in high school and it’s just stuff that I like to do, so if I get put in that situation, just helping people makes me feel good,” Feldkamp said.

Darby said he joined the Marine Corps in 2018, towards the end of the Global War on Terrorism, and he initially didn’t feel that he measured up to his mentors in the Corps, who had deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and other warzones. 

Graduating from Marine Security Guard training made Darby feel that he was part of “the good fight,” he said.

“The ability to be standing Post 1 or being a rover at an embassy or consulate, that is the direct mission of the United States of America,” Darby said. “So, coming into MSG gave me that opportunity to finally get out of the mindset of: Man, I’m happy to be a Marine and everything, but I haven’t gotten to do anything serious. Coming to MSG gives you that direct input to have a physical impact on the success of the Marine Corps and the United States.”

For Dural, who was initially in the infantry, being a Marine Security Guard will allow him to be the calm face of the Marine Corps during crises overseas. He noted that when there is an emergency in a foreign country, Marines are often the first U.S. service members that locals encounter.

“I want to be that Marine,” Dural said. “I want to be a calm that people see. I want to be that strong person that anybody can trust. I was like that for my sisters when I grew up with them and I would love to do that for the rest of the world.”

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