Sgt. Brandon Antoine was rushed out of his Okinawa, Japan, barracks room early on June 16, 2018, while Marines ran down the halls carrying mattresses. Antoine said he originally assumed base police were conducting a surprise inspection in the barracks, but he was perplexed when he was forced to lug his mattress outside into the rainstorm.
A suicidal Marine was saved from jumping to his death by the Marine of the Year for 2021.
“A lot of Marines were bashing on doors and getting mattresses outside,” Antoine recalled. Because he liked his mattress and didn’t want it to get wet, the Marine, then a corporal, went outside to check what was causing the commotion: an intoxicated Marine threatening to jump from a fourth deck air duct. However, Antoine’s prompt efforts saved the drunk Marine from jumping to his death that night. Antoine has been named Military Times’ 2021 Marine of the Year for his bravery. He was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the service’s highest noncombat medal for valor. Antoine noticed the drunk Marine “hanging belly side down” on an air vent while standing outside in the rain. “I noticed they didn’t need any more mattresses, so I went to check if someone was trying to get the Marine… to help him so he wouldn’t fall,” Antoine explained.
The inebriated Marine had gained access to the air vent through a fourth-deck lavatory, which he had shut behind him. When Antoine got on the scene, he noticed two or three Marines attempting to pry the door open with their hands. “I instructed them to pry it open and crack it, and then I’m going to kick it,” Antoine explained. Antoine and the other Marines had quickly gained access to the bathroom. Antoine then climbed onto the slick, wet air duct to grab the Marine who was about to jump. Two Marines who had made it into the restroom grabbed Antoine to keep him from falling during the rescue. “I just waited till the fire department arrived,” Antoine explained. The on-base fire crew arrived with a ladder after about 15 minutes and successfully removed the inebriated Marine off the roof. Antoine continued, “It was an entire battalion effort, everyone was there doing something, I was simply the one holding the Marine.” Antoine was born in New Orleans, but after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of his hometown, he relocated to Atlanta in 2005. The young Marine, who played football for the Etowah High School Eagles in Woodstock, Georgia, was instilled with a competitive spirit as a child. He explained, “I’m not trying to prove myself to anyone; I’m just trying to compete.” When Antoine was about to graduate from high school, he said he heard a message from God telling him to serve his country. Antoine traveled to the local recruiting office within a week, undecided on which branch he wanted to join until he saw the Marine recruiters.
Antoine told Marine Corps Times, “They were the loudest at the station, and they were all in their dress blues.” The Marine recruiters challenged Antoine to a pushup competition shortly after introductions. Antoine only had eyes for the Corps after that. He signed a communications contract in 2014, hoping to get into boot camp as soon as possible. Antoine fell in love with his profession as a 0621-field radio operator, despite the fact that it was virtually an afterthought to his dream of becoming a Marine. When Antoine landed at his first unit, the 7th Marine Regiment, located out of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, his love for the military was solidified.
Antoine added, “I adore the real-world setting.” He continued, “I enjoyed working with snipers and grunts, going to their (integrated training exercises), and doing exercises with the various nations who come to Camp Wilson.” According to Capt. Benjamin Yoder, a spokesman for the 3rd Marine Division, the infantry unit provided him with lots of opportunities to practice his trade in a realistic training environment, which led to his first deployment to Kuwait in 2016 as part of Operation New Dawn. After his initial four years in the Corps, Antoine re-enlisted and requested to be assigned to the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan, in order to further his professional development. He found himself in front of his Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, barracks seeing a Marine threaten to kill himself not long after he arrived.
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