Peleliu Sailor's Navy Training Saves Life

Story Number: NNS090605-27Release Date: 6/5/2009 8:18:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Jason McKnight, USS Peleliu Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- A Sailor from USS Peleliu (LHA 5) received recognition May 29 for his heroic actions in August 2008 - when he saved a toddler from drowning.

Peleliu's commanding officer awarded Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Anderson Compalas a Certificate of Appreciation from Coast Guard Sector Seattle for reviving the toddler at Bremerton Marina in Washington.

"My family and I had just been enjoying a day at the marina fishing and crabbing and were actually on the way home when we heard someone frantically calling their little girl's name," said Compalas.

"They were obviously in distress and were running up and down the shoreline looking towards the water while they searched, so all of us joined in immediately.

"We were about to give up when my son said he thought he saw something under the pier that jutted out into the marina, and sure enough, it was the little girl floating face down."

Compalas reached down and pulled her out of the water and after finding her not breathing and with no pulse, began CPR.

"I didn't think she would make it. I thought she was dead," said Compalas. "It had been a long time she'd been missing, and nobody knew when she had fallen into the water. She was so blue and so cold, but I began CPR anyway."

The father's cries and obvious CPR attracted a crowd on the pier, which in turn alerted a nurse who was coincidentally nearby on a boat touring the marina. She offered to assist Compalas with his lifesaving efforts.

"Eventually, our training paid off, and the girl began coughing up water and breathing on her own," Compalas said.

"I was so relieved. The feeling I had when I saw the father hold his daughter and the color and warmth start to come back into her was indescribable."

Compalas and his family was at the marina celebrating his birthday that day but ended up giving a second chance at life for a little girl. The girl's family and the Compalas family are now good friends and still maintain ties today, despite his transfer to Peleliu.

"It was one of those life-and-death decisions," said Compalas. "My family had our pick of parks to celebrate my birthday that day, and had we chosen differently that little girl may have died.

"I'm grateful that chance brought us together at that moment and appreciative of the repetitive CPR drilling the Navy makes me do," said Compalas. "I'm thankful that I decided to go a step further and learn infant CPR because you never know...the Sailor nearest to disaster just might be you some day."

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