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Face of Defense: Marine Pulls Man From Burning Truck

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Stephen T. Stewart
Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C., Feb. 24, 2012 – Running late on his way to pick up a new fishing boat after work Feb. 14, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David S. Shouse was driving through the small town of Boiling Spring Lakes, N.C., when he saw a truck engulfed in flames.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David S. Shouse pulled a man from a burning vehicle in Boiling Spring Lakes, N.C., Feb. 14, 2012. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Tyler J. Bolken

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Shouse, a supply clerk here, pulled over to see what was going on. Inside the truck, 59-year-old Steven Early was stuck, desperately trying to pry himself out.

“I was going to call 911 right away, but then I saw him,” said Shouse, a Ripley, Ohio, native. “The only thing going through my mind when I saw him was, ‘There’s a guy in that truck, and I have to get him out.’” Grabbing Early’s flailing arm, he pulled him out of the truck and dragged him a safe distance from the fire.

“The fire was so huge, and I was worried for the man’s life,” Shouse said. “I thought he was going to be very hurt.”

Luckily, Early was the only person in the vehicle. All of the truck’s tires were melted down, and the entire vehicle, aside from where Early sat, was an inferno, Shouse said.

“With how big the flames were, I kept thinking, ‘Please don’t explode,’” he said. “I thought it was going to be like the movies.”

After the incident, Shouse called Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Scott A. Laroche, his good friend and roommate.

“When he called me and told me what happened, I didn’t believe him,” Laroche said. “It doesn’t surprise me, though, that Shouse would do something like this.”

His friend is known for always being there for his fellow Marines, Laroche added. On many occasions, he said, he has changed his plans for someone else’s benefit, taking duties for people, giving rides or just offering up a place to crash for the night.

In front of several hundred Marines two days after the rescue, Shouse’s commanding officer, Marine Corps Lt. Col. Samuel P. Mowery, commended his selflessness.

“Your actions outside the workplace are indicative of what you do in the workplace,” Mowery said. Shouse said he was just glad he was there, and that the man was OK.

“It’s good I was running late to pick up my boat,” he said.

The only thing that bothered him, he added, was that he saw cars in front of him drive past the flaming vehicle.

“I don’t understand why anyone would do that,” he said.

“He truly cares about others and doesn’t expect or want anything in return,” Laroche said. “We need more people in this world like Shouse.”

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