LOS ANGELES --
The idiom being at “the right place at the right time” is a phrase familiar to the average person. To Staff Sgt. Jennie Castillo, a canvassing recruiter out of Recruiting Substation La Puente, Recruiting Station Riverside, 12th Marine Corps District, the idiom has gained new meaning.
On Oct. 16, 2018, Castillo was recognized at the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration for her heroic actions at Nogales High School in La Puente, Calif., in which she immediately responded and applied first aid to a student, ultimately saving his life.
“I was working a table setup and noticed a student go down,” said Castillo. “So I went over with a Marine I had helping me out and did what I could.”
Without hesitation Castillo and Pfc. Nathaniel Martinez rushed over to assess the situation. When she noticed the student required immediate attention, she applied her leadership traits and took control of the situation. She ordered Martinez to call 911 as she applied lifesaving first aid.
“Due to my military training I was able to respond quickly,” said Castillo.
Shortly after Castillo had saved the student’s life, word of her actions spread. As soon as Karen Clifford, assistant principal for Nogales High School, heard of Castillo’s initiative, she ensured she would be recognized.
“I come from a family of Marines,” said Clifford. “[Castillo’s] heroic actions just shows her willingness to jump in and help out during any situation. After I told her, ‘Thank you for your help,’ she replied ‘I just did what I am trained to do,’ she was so humble.”
The news quickly spread through social media and within days the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors learned of Castillo’s heroic actions.
“We’re incredibly proud of our Marines and Deputy Nava for their heroic actions that they took last week to preserve a life, but more importantly rendering assistance to those in need,” said Hilda Solis, supervisor for First District presentations.
After the meeting Castillo was at a loss for words.
“I feel like I didn’t do anything that any other person or any other Marine would have done. I was in the right place at the right time,” she said. “It’s just about being a good person; a good human being.”
Castillo’s actions are something Maj. Joseph Petkus, the commanding officer of Recruiting Station Riverside, considers common among Marines. To him she exuded actions and traits common among all Marines.
“When I heard about what Staff Sgt. Castillo did I was extremely proud but at the same time it was almost an expectation,” said Petkus. “The reason being is that the way we train our Marines, if they see someone in danger or in need of help they take action. It all starts with recruit training and turning civilians into Marines, imbuing Marines with those traits of honor, courage and commitment throughout their career. Staff Sgt. Castillo definitely shows that.”
To Petkus she is an example of the way the Marine Corps contributes to society; by making Marines and building quality citizens prepared to make positive impacts on their communities.
“Staff Sgt. Castillo has only been out here for about a month and in that timeframe in a situation like that and acting the way that she did shows that the Marine Corps is doing the right thing in terms of developing the right types of individuals to serve our country,” he said.