A soldier who helped save a young girl at Pokai Bay received a special honor at Wheeler Army Airfield.
Sgt. Maj. Gerardo Gonzalez, assigned to 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, was honored with an Army Commendation Medal.
The 25th CAB support operations sergeant major was visiting Pokai Bay with his family on June 15 when he heard a man screaming for help in the water. The man was holding a girl and struggling to keep her above water, he said.
Gonzalez began to perform life-saving procedures while moving toward the shore with the girl. Once he arrived on the beach, he continued to perform life-saving procedures until the girl expelled the water in her lungs and started to breathe weakly on her own. Gonzalez continued to monitor the girl and perform CPR until lifeguards arrived to take over and transport the girl to the ambulance.
“It was just training,” said Gonzales. “There was nothing else that was coming to my mind and I just kept going until the lifeguards were there.”
The 209th ASB chose to award Gonzalez because he put the safety of others above his own, officials said.
“Sgt. Maj. Gonzalez is getting this award because he really went above and beyond performing his duty as a soldier on- and off-duty,” said Maj. William Hanna, 209th ASB executive officer. “He was selfless and went out of his way to save a little girl’s life.”
The girl, who was later identified as 9-year-old Martina Eram, recovered at Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children.
But her older sister, 11-year-old Gloria Eram, died at the scene in an apparent attempt to save her.