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U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Goad, left, a powerline division chief with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal by Lt. Col. Jeffrey Davis, commanding officer of VMFA-314, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, July 1, 2024. Goad, president of the VMFA-314 motorcycle riding club, was awarded for providing life-saving aid to a fellow motorcycle rider on April 21, 2024. (U.S. Marine Corps courtesy photo)

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Bias for action | VMFA-314 Marine saves motorcyclist’s life

9 Jul 2024 | 1stLt Madison Walls 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Christopher Goad has what Marines call a “bias for action.” Goad is the powerline division chief at Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314, Marine Aircraft Group 11, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and president of the VMFA-314 motorcycle club. He has spent his 14-year career on busy airfields and aircraft carrier flight decks, including his current assignment with VMFA-314 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

“Situational awareness on the flight deck is paramount,” Goad said. “We tell these Marines to constantly look left, look right. Every two seconds. Because one second could mean your life.”

Goad’s vigilance paid off on April 21, 2024, when he saved a fellow motorcyclist’s life while on a group motorcycle ride with the San Diego Chapter of Marine Riders Iwo Jima.

While riding along Route 76 near Julian, California, an inexperienced rider misjudged an uphill right turn and was struck by an oncoming vehicle. The group turned around and found the SUV reversing from on top of the injured rider. Goad parked his motorcycle and called 911 as he made his way to the injured rider.

One rider assessed the injured’s consciousness while Goad and another quickly triaged the injured rider. Goad applied a tourniquet above the rider's knee using a belt. Then, noticing another rupture in the injured rider’s leg, he applied a second tourniquet from the first aid kit in his motorcycle.

Emergency room staff stated that Goad’s tourniquet application prevented blood loss that would have been fatal to the injured rider if not promptly and properly applied.

For his heroism, Goad was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal during a ceremony at the VMFA-314 hangar on July 1, 2024.

“Gunnery Sgt. Goad embodied a bias for action and acted when others chose the role of bystander,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Davis, commanding officer of VMFA-314. “He saved someone’s life, and his actions are a testament to his character and leadership.”

When asked about his mindset during the event, Goad said, “I think it comes down to instinct. I’m very aware of my surroundings; I’ve also learned hesitating at the wrong moment could mean life or death.”

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, California has more motorcyclists than any other state and more than 800,000 registered motorcycles. While motorcycles made up 3.5% of all registered vehicles in the U.S. in 2021, they comprised 14% of motor vehicle related fatalities that year.

As an avid motorcyclist and president of the VMFA-314 motorcycle club, Goad is dedicated to riding safely.

“Riding motorcycles is a perishable skill, just like getting back into airplanes,” Goad said.

Similar to the mindset of fighter pilots returning to the cockpit after time off, Goad takes a “crawl, walk, run” approach to returning from an extended time off from riding. Goad leads his squadron motorcycle club through quarterly rides and safety check rides with the club’s vice president, Staff Sgt. Matthew Donovan.

The Marine Corps operates the Motorcycle Mentorship Program, which pairs experienced riders with less-experienced Marines to promote safe riding practices, fostering a culture of responsible motorcycle operation and ownership within the Marine Corps. The MMP builds technical skills and develops a mindset of caution and respect for the road among new and seasoned riders alike.

Goad emphasizes that riders should “ride at their skill level,” getting accustomed to the motorcycle in a controlled area and knowing how to handle it in a variety of conditions before taking on dynamic roadways and traffic.

Goad’s decisive action, vigilance and commitment to safety extends to his role as powerline chief.

“I want to give [my Marines] the best example of a division chief that I can,” Goad said.

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