Airman, spouse channel training into caring act beyond the gates

Being in the ‘right place at the right time’ saves a life

The 88th Air Base Wing’s vision reached further March 23 when some noisy neighborhood pets, an Airman’s back-pocket training and a couple’s commitment to “service before self” intersected with a medical mishap to assist a stranger in need.

That Tuesday afternoon, Staff Sgt. Marc Lejeune, a bioenvironmental technician from the 88th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was resting at home between lectures and homework for Airman Leadership School. His wife, Melissa Mault, noticed some dogs barking, alerting her to the window to see a man, presumably their neighbor’s father, lying unresponsive on the ground.

“I threw on my boots and headed outside,” Lejeune said. “My wife and I decided to help immediately because there was no one else in the area. We both knew that it could potentially turn into a worse situation if no help was given.”

The couple calmly walked through the appropriate procedures. While Mault took control of the dog and called 911, Lejeune surveyed the scene for hazards, attempted to wake the man, checked his vitals and tilted his head in case of blockage.

As the neighbor’s breathing and pulse steadied, Mault continued speaking with emergency services on the phone until local first responders arrived.

“I backed away because I knew they had more training,” Lejeune said. “By then, the man seemed to be 80 percent OK, and he was taken for further evaluation.”

Lejeune hasn’t received any update on the man’s condition, he said, and it’s unclear what caused the March 23 incident.

Still, Lejeune noted his education and values as an Airman prepared him to act in a scenario that deviated from his typical duties.

As a health-risk assessor at Wright-Patterson Medical Center, Lejeune creates safe workplaces every day, coordinating research, protective equipment and administrative practices to control people’s exposure to environmental factors, from paint to drinking water. Although his work protects health, he does not treat patients directly.

Instead, he drew from holistic Airmen training and leadership skills, as well as Mault’s help, to administer timely and effective initial care that day outside his home.

“Being able to think critically during a stressful moment was key. My wife was able to do so as well in order to properly communicate with the emergency services,” Lejeune said. “I went to Expeditionary Medical Support training at Camp Bullis, Texas, over the summer, which equipped me with basic life-support skills while under a stressful situation.”

Adding to his accomplishments, Lejeune graduated from Airman Leadership School, the first level of the Enlisted Professional Military Education continuum, just two days after the incident, with more than a piece of paper to prove his readiness.

Col. Patrick Miller, 88 ABW and installation commander, presented a coin to Lejeune at the graduation for his heroism.

“He recognized a neighbor in need, sprung to action and let his training take over,” Miller said. “When we talk about being ready, Staff Sgt. Lejeune was ready when it mattered most. This is just one of many cases where our teammates recognized a situation and dove straight in to better the outcome, regardless of any potential impact to themselves.

“On duty or off duty, our values and characteristics are embedded in the team. We simply can’t turn them off. I’m humbled to be surrounded by so many amazing Airmen.”

Miller specifically identified newly developed 88 ABW core traits in Lejeune and Mault’s conduct.

“Staff Sgt. Lejeune and his wife are the prime examples of character and competence colliding with an event to make the extraordinary happen,” Miller said. “Their actions epitomize the characteristics we expect from our teammates both on and off duty, characteristics that include responsive, competent, professional, trusted and caring.”

But Lejeune, true to his character, redirects the praise to the helpers around him.

“Shout-out to my wife, who called 911 and found the individual, and all the emergency responders who do these kinds of things every day,” he said. “And also to the doctors and medical technicians who work hard to save people 24/7. I have a great respect for all they do. My wife and I were just at the right place at the right time.”

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