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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

3280 Russell Road, 2nd Floor Quantico, Va. 22134
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Marine Receives award at Bayou Classic

By SSgt. Demetrio J. Espinosa | Marine Corps Recruiting Command | November 29, 2002

NEW ORLEANS -- NEW ORLEANS, LA - Few people find themselves in a situation where they must decide to put themselves at risk for someone else.  How we react could mean the difference between life and death.

A Marine was recognized November 29, 2002 at the Bayou Classic football game for his act of heroism. 

Staff Sergeant Job Armenta, a Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program student at Louisiana State University was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism.

According to Armenta, at about three in the morning his dog's barking awakened him.  When he woke up he heard his neighbor screaming outside.

"I didn't know if she was being mugged or attacked.  I ran outside and her house was engulfed in flames," said Armenta.

His neighbor's babysitter had panicked and run out of the house screaming that there was a fire inside the house.  In her panic she forgot the three-year-old girl, Addy Watson, she was watching inside.

"When I first came outside, the flames were so high that I couldn't believe anybody could be alive in there," Armenta said.  "The flames were shooting out of the front door and window."

Not thinking about himself, only that he was half-dressed, Armenta quickly broke a window in the girl's room to get inside.  Once inside Armenta almost immediately was affected by the smoke, nearly passing out. 

He tripped over a toy and began to breath easier while crawling on the floor.  His goal was to find the girl.

"When I went inside her room, all I could hear was her crying.  I found her sitting in her bed," said Armenta.

After being in the fire that destroyed her house for several minutes, the girl was unharmed by the smoke and flames.

"There are a lot of things that could have happened," said Armenta.  "It was really scary"

In the end Armenta was happy the girl was all right.  Watson was a playmate of his own two sons.

"Addy, had just been at my house that night.  My only thought had been about telling my sons something happened to her. 

They play together all of the time.  I couldn't just stand there," said Armenta.  "She is like one of my own."

Armenta was awarded the medal by BGen. Ronald S. Coleman, Assistant Deputy Commandant for Installations and Logistics (Facilities), as well as Louisiana U.S. Senator Mary L. Landrieu.

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