BUSAN, Korea - A 2nd Infantry Division Soldier gave the gift of life to a 9-year-old Korean girl when he saved her from drowning at Haeundae Beach in Busan June 13.
Pfc. Richard Bigouette of Bravo Company, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, was swimming a little way from shore with Pfc. Joshua Davis, also of Bravo 602nd ASB. Suddenly, Bigouette heard frantic screams from people on the beach pointing to a place beyond the waves, more than 50 yards out into the water.
A little girl was struggling for her life as she tried to remain above the water. Another girl, standing waist-deep in the choppy water between the waves, was crying for help.
Aca,!A"The waves were swelling up and she was caught between them in deep water,Aca,!A? Bigouette said. Aca,!A"At first, we heard the two girls yelling and we didnAca,!a,,ct understand what they were saying but it was obvious the child was in trouble and I had to help.Aca,!A?
Bigouette swam quickly to the girl, wrapped his arm around her shoulder and swam back through the waves toward the shore where Davis stood by to help bring her ashore.
Aca,!A"I worked fast to get her back into shore and was able to meet up with a few people who came out as far as they could and we met on a sandbar about half-way back to the shoreline,Aca,!A? said Bigouette.
Several people entered the water to help Bigouette bring the girl to shore. She was carried to medical personnel who revived her and saved her life.
Aca,!A"As we were leaving, I could see the girl with her family and she was walking on her own,Aca,!A? said Bigouette. Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs important that people know that we really care about our neighbors.Aca,!A?
Maj. David W. Price, Eighth U.S. Army Battle Command and Knowledge Management Officer, was vacationing on Haeundae Beach that day and witnessed the entire sequence of events.
Aca,!A"Out of nowhere, an American Soldier rushed to the water and began swimming toward the distressed individual,Aca,!A? said Price. Aca,!A"It made me feel so proud that this Soldier would make the sacrifice to save a complete stranger. I felt the need to do the right thing and track down his chain of command and recommend that he be recognized for his heroic action.Aca,!A?
Bigouette, a native of Texas, hasnAca,!a,,ct completed combat lifesaver training, but he attributes his quick assessment of the situation to Army basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Aca,!A"I had a drill sergeant in basic training who had a strong influence on me. He taught us to be confident and professional and most of all to be vigilant, always keeping an eye on everything that happens around us,Aca,!A? said Bigouette.
Bigouette credits his upbringing and Army service with his desire to help those in need.
Aca,!A"What enabled me to do this was the overall experience IAca,!a,,cve received from the Army, a sense of camaraderie and the training to react quickly," said Bigouette. "It may also have been what my father has taught me, to help anyone in need."