"I saw that there wasn't much time left... with the state he was in, I knew that I had to hurry." - Staff Sergeant Brian Stirrat
Staff Sgt. Brian C. Stirrat, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-station Wichita, Recruiting Station Oklahoma City, is reunited with 3-year-old Enrique Santos, whose life he saved while on liberty March 26, 2005. Photo courtesy U.S. Marine Corps
By U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James J. Connolly, Jr.
8th Marine Corps District
NEW ORLEANS, La., May 24, 2005 — A district Marine was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his role in the recent rescue of a choking toddler.
Staff Sgt. Brian C. Stirrat was spending a quiet weekend afternoon in his townhouse when he was startled by frantic screams from his neighbor, Letecia Santos. "She said my son is choking, my son is choking, please help me," explained the 26-year-old canvassing recruiter assigned to Recruiting Station Oklahoma City, Recruiting Sub-station Wichita, Kan.
Stirrat quickly leapt over the barrier between the two apartments and assessed the situation. He discovered 3-year-old Enrique Santos unconscious, and being tended to by his grandfather. "The little boy was in a limp state... blue in the face and not a lot of reaction," Stirrat explained. "The grandfather was trying to do the Heimlich maneuver, but it just wasn't working."
With a growing number of concerned friends and relatives filing into the small room, Stirrat took over life saving duties from the grandfather. "I really didn't hear much of the commotion going on around me," Stirrat said, explaining that he went on to perform a cursory finger sweep, followed by back blows and chest thrusts. "I saw that there wasn't much time left... with the state he was in, I knew that I had to hurry."
After a moment of continuous work, Stirrat was able to dislodge a small rubber toy ball from the child's throat.
Although the immediate danger was over, Stirrat continued to tend to his patient, treating for shock and keeping the boy calm until civilian emergency medical responders arrived.
Shortly after the incident, Stirrat phoned his staff noncommissioned officer in charge, Master Sgt. Thomas K. McGlasson, to report what had happened. In spite of Sttirat's attempts to downplay the significance of the event, McGlasson described him as a leader who strives to set the example.
"I think he is always looking to do the right thing," explained McGlasson, a native of Denver, Colo. "He always looks for the opportunity (to helps others)."
Maj. Kendall A Martinez, commanding officer of RS Oklahoma City, presented the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal in a ceremony held at the apartment complex where the rescue took place. Martinez made it clear that he was impressed by the actions of his Marine.
"Although I'm very proud, I'm not surprised by Staff Sgt. Stirrat's actions," He explained. "Courage and decisiveness during stressful situations are just a couple of the traits that define us as Marines in and out of uniform. I feel this is a prime example of our core values of honor, courage and commitment in action."