Lance Cpl. Anahi Anaya joined the Marine Corps in search of a lifelong sense of family: Once a Marine, always a Marine, the saying goes.

In Cpl. Caleb Williams, who saved her life after she got hit by a car on May 5, Anaya found it.

Williams used his sweatshirt to tie a makeshift tourniquet on Anaya’s leg, and secured the assistance of a bystander and emergency services. And he served as Anaya’s “lifeline,” helping her stay calm through the ordeal.

“We went from strangers to pretty much family after that day,” Anaya told Marine Corps Times in a Dec. 18 interview.

On Dec. 8, Williams, a rifleman with the Hawaii-based 3rd Littoral Combat Team, 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for stepping up to save his fellow Marine’s life.

The evening of May 5, Anaya, an administration clerk with 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment, was riding her motorcycle toward Honolulu with a group of Marines, including Williams.

Williams was newer to riding motorcycles, Anaya said, so she stayed with him at the back of the pack. When Williams experienced a mechanical issue with his bike, the two of them pulled over so Anaya could check it out.

A car whizzed around the bend, and Anaya felt a rush of heat. Then she felt as if someone had poured water on her leg. It was blood.

“This can’t be real,” Anaya recalled thinking.

The car sped off, according to Anaya, who said local authorities are still investigating the incident.

“As soon as I heard the crash, I felt that gut-wrenching feeling,” Williams said, quoted in a Marine Corps news release.

Anaya was on the ground, having sustained an open fracture in her right leg and significant trauma in her right calf, according to the release. Williams sprinted to her.

He dragged her to a safer spot, out of the way of traffic. Then he fashioned a tourniquet out of his sweatshirt.

At Anaya’s urging, he tied it as tightly as he could. It was painful, but she relaxed a little once the tying was over and the bleeding slowed, Anaya said.

“All I could think about was keeping her safe, calm and alert,” Williams said. “I didn’t want her to think the worst while it was all happening. I then pulled my phone out and called 911 to give them our location.”

A civilian bystander pulled over and tried to help, ultimately fetching a real tourniquet from her truck, Anaya said. All the while, Anaya was squeezing Williams’ shoulders like a stress ball, she said.

Despite her loss of blood, Anaya remained conscious and, when an ambulance arrived, was able to tell them what had happened. She was taken to a Honolulu hospital that evening.

Several months later, Anaya still doesn’t have a lot of feeling in her calf, and she feels a constant pressure in her leg, as if it had fallen asleep and someone was pressing on it.

But she can walk without crutches, and she is back to work. She’s even riding her motorcycle again.

“She’s come so far after all the surgeries,” Williams said in the news release. “I’m amazed every day by her willpower and everything she’s overcome.”

Without Williams, Anaya said, “I would not be here today.”

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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