A Marine lance corporal was awarded the Navy’s highest award for non-combat valor for rescuing an elderly man who was being pulled out to sea by rip currents, according to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal was presented to Lance Cpl. Noah M. Ballow on March 12, 2020, at a ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, for his heroic actions and quick decision making while on vacation with his family on July 7, 2018 at Paradise Village Resort in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico, a Marine news release detailed.

While spending time with his family at the resort, Ballow noticed an an exhausted elderly man fighting against a dangerous rip current that was pulling him out to sea. Ballow made the quick decision to act and swam to the man to calm and help him back to shore.

“I knew he needed help, and I just went,” Ballow, an intelligence specialist with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3 at MCAS Miramar, said in the release. “If someone needs help and you’re there and you can help them, then do it.”

According to the release:

“Despite the dire situation, the Marine remained calm and kept himself and the man afloat by treading water for several minutes." Ballow “then began to swim parallel to the shoreline – with the man in tow – until they eventually arrived at the water’s edge."

Ballow and his father eventually pulled the tired man to shore, according to the release. Ballow said he wasn’t scared when he rushed into dangerous waters to rescue the drowning man.

“No, I didn’t think about that, I just went," Ballow said.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal was presented to Ballow by Maj. Gen. Kevin M. Iiams, commanding general of 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

“You can tell the quality of an individual in the final seconds of a definitive decision,” Iiams said at the ceremony.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is a relatively rare award often presented to service members who put themselves at great risk to rescue others.

The medal “represents the epitome of honor, courage and commitment,” the release detailed.

Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.

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