In June, 2018, when a group of Marines noticed a family was being swept along by a powerful rip current at Atlantic Beach in North Carolina they immediately swam out to save them. Now, more than a year later, those Marines have been recognized for their actions.
On Tuesday, Staff Sgt. Leary K. Reichartwarfel, and Cpls. Anders K. Larson, Austin McMullen, and Timothy R. Watson were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the service's highest non-combat award for heroism, during a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
According to a Marine Corps statement, the medal is "awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps, distinguish themselves by heroism, including lifesaving and attempted lifesaving acts at the risk of one's own life."
Staff Sgt. Leary Reicharwarfel (left), Sgt. Anders Larson, Cpl. Austin McMullen, and Cpl. Timothy Watson pose for a photo with the family they saved after receiving the Navy and Marine Corps Medal aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Jan. 28, 2020.
(U.S. Marine Corps/Staff Sgt. William L. Holdaway)
On June 15, 2018, after they saw that their twin daughters had been grabbed by a strong current, Ali Joy and her husband Charles Austin Joy Jr., raced out to get them before they too were quickly drawn further away from the shore.
Seeing the family was in dire straits, the Marines swam out to get them.
Tragically, after they pulled Charles Austin Joy Jr. to shore, he was unresponsive and despite their efforts he could not be resuscitated, according to the Marine Corps statement.
Since her husband's death, Ali Joy created Float Don't Fight, an organization that aims to educate people on how to survive a rip current.
She and her daughters attended Tuesday's ceremony and met with Reichartwarfel, Larson, McMullen, and Watson.
"It was amazing to see these young men who were on vacation and jumped in," Ali Joy told 13NewsNow following an Aug. 9, 2019 reunion with three of the Marines. "They have their whole lives ahead of them and they did not think twice about risking their lives."