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HM3 Don Klein, a Navy corpsman with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, will receive the Non Commissioned Officers Association Vanguard Award, April 20 in Washington, D.C. for his heroic actions November 12, 2017, when he saved a woman's life while hiking in Poway, California.

Photo by Sgt. Brytani Wheeler

3rd MAW Sailor receives award for saving a life

13 Apr 2018 | Sgt. Brytani Wheeler 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

During a hike on Mount Woodson in Poway, California, Don Klein and his wife heard calls of distress.

Those calls of distress were coming from a senior woman who had fallen approximately 15 feet down the side of the cliff. Klein, a Navy corpsman with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, immediately took action to help the woman who had fallen on a boulder below.

“I scaled down the side of the cliff to the rock below and began administering aid to the patient,” said Klein. “While also directing a man nearby to call for [Emergency Medical Services].”

Klein says he thinks any corpsman would have taken action in that situation. “I didn’t have to think about it,” Klein said.

Klein, from Naperville, Illinois, entered field medicine in the Navy after being a lifeguard in high school and having a desire to help people. Klein, who has more than three years of medical experience in the Navy, completed Tactical Casualty Combat Care training and acquired skills while working at Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago, which helped prepare him for this kind of situation.

“While waiting for EMS I created a pressure bandage for the laceration on the side of her head to prevent hemorrhagic shock,” said Klein.

Using his own and another man’s shirt, he created a sling, immobilizing the patient’s injured arm.

“Lastly, I provided cervical spine control until paramedics arrived on scene,” said Klein.

Klein’s actions on Sunday, November 12, 2017, earned him recognition from the Non Commissioned Officers Association. NCOA presents a Vanguard Award annually to a service member from each branch of service for a heroic act, on or off duty. The award is named in honor and memory of the Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Machinist Mate First Class Robert R. Scott, U.S. Navy.

Klein will receive the award during a ceremony on April 20 in Washington, D.C.