JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
child was drowning at Fort Monroe Beach, Virginia, May 13, 2018.
medical services arrived, they found a young girl that had been rescued from
the water and was in her mother’s arms. The nine-year-old had gone swimming, when the current
took her into deeper waters where she could no longer stand and was getting
closer to the rocks.
friend got up and said ‘that little girl is in the water,’” said U.S. Air Force
Tech Sgt. Richard Penny, 633rd Air Base Wing Inspector General management
internal control toolset administrator and special access program manager. “My
back was towards the water so I couldn't see what was going on, but she took
off sprinting so I just started sprinting with her.”
was at that moment that Penny, along with friends Ashley Staley and Adam
Bradshaw, sprang into action.
first, Penny and his friends couldn’t locate the girl. He remembers getting to
the top of the rocks and seeing her still conscience, floating in the water.
we heard her mom come sprinting and shouting, ‘help my daughter, she can’t swim,
and I can’t either,’” Penny said.
and Staley started climbing down the sharp-slippery rocks until they reached
what they thought was shallow water.
weren't expecting for the water to be so deep that close to the rocks, but it
was over our heads,” Penny said.
said, this was the first time he remembers being afraid for himself -- even after
don’t know if I ever would have done that if I wasn’t in the military,” Penny
said. “The way the Air Force molds you into being a leader, the mentality and
mindset given in the military, helped me through that.”
after, Bradshaw arrived after swimming around the rocks in search for the girl
and helped bring her back to the edge of the rocks.
this point, the water was just beating us against the rocks,” Penny said. “The
water was just crazy. It was really, really rough that day.”
getting the little girl and Staley out of the water, Penny and Bradshaw were
met by friends that had remained on shore to help them out of the water.
the aftermath of the rescue, beach marker signs have been installed to help
emergency responders locate incidents on the beach quicker. The brown signs
with reflective numbers will assist 911 callers to accurately identify the area,
when an incident occurs, to responding units.
Staley and Bradshaw earned a Citizen Lifesaving certificate June 7, 2018, and
will receive a medal at a later date by the Hampton, Virginia, Division of Fire
never thought there would be a day that I would almost be giving up my life for
someone,” Penny said. “But I don’t take it back, and I’m so thankful that on Mother’s
Day, that mom got to take her little girl home.”