It was just another normal night on post for Marine Security Guards at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, when a frantic, then threatening, phone call put their training to the test.
It was in the middle of a night rove during the last weekend in January, Sgt. Kyle Lewis, a guard at the embassy, received a first call from a Jamaican man who “ranted” about someone out to kill him.
In a second phone call, his claims escalated to a bomb threat, which the Marines were able to diffuse and then guide police to the man’s house and into custody within the hour.
“At first he didn’t seem hostile but after a certain period of time it really escalated,” Lance Cpl. Noah Mesimer told Marine Corps Times in a phone call mid-May.
Because of their quick work, the three Marines have been nominated for a meritorious honor award.
‘Thankful for my previous experience’
After the first phone call, the man called back, this time escalating his claims.
In the second call to the embassy, the man threated to kill his wife and set off a bomb inside the embassy, killing the Americans who worked there.
Once the bomb threat was made Mesimer, Lewis and the detachment commander, Gunnery Sgt. Kuan Huang, leaped into action.
Huang took over the phone call, attempting to collect as much information as possible from the man, eventually getting his name, address and his phone number, which was relayed to the regional security officer at the embassy and eventually Kingston, Jamaica, police.
Huang said his experience as a drill instructor helped him navigate the phone call with the distressed man.
“I have a lot of experience talking to recruits, when they had personal problems, they would come to me,” Huang said. “So, I am thankful for my previous experience that allowed me to stay calm, collective, take down a lot of notes and allow the caller to finish talking.”
The Marines were able to stay on the phone with the man long enough for local police to show up to his house and safely take him into custody.
Though no actual bomb was found, the way the Marines responded to the threat verified the training they go through as Marine security guards.
“One of the things that made their response and actions so spot on was that we had basically the best possible outcome,” Courtney Glass, an assistant regional security officer at the Jamaica embassy, told Marine Corps Times.
“Anytime you could have someone make a threat against the embassy and then locate them within the hour, it doesn’t get much better than that,” Glass said.
Lewis said, “We practice and train for these types of events.”
“For us to actually put it into effect and knowing afterward that we actually handled it well, knowing that are training actually paid off, it does actually help that feeling that ' hey we are actually fulfilling our mission,’” Lewis added.
In six months of being posted at Kingston, Jamaica, Huang had never had to deal with a bomb threat.
“I’ve never intercepted any call or threats or threats of the facility, and that was the first one,” Huang said.
Lewis said a threat like the one they received that night is pretty rare at a post like Kingston, Jamaica, though some embassies are more at risk than others.
“The threat level changes from place to place, Moscow you don’t really have a lot of distress calls,” Lewis said of one of his previous postings.