About a month ago, Staff Sgt. Dustin Gill’s life changed forever. His day started off as planned; him and his wife Cynthia packed their luggage and hit the road for their honeymoon cruise. It was a predictable drive on Interstate 26, until the couple hit dead stop traffic.
“I saw a motorcycle laid out and a body on the highway,” said Gill. “I ran across a couple of lanes of traffic to check the guy out.”
The man laid on the side of the road bleeding and still. His left leg was completely severed from the knee down. Gill immediately applied pressure to the man’s leg and asked a fellow bystander, who was also at the scene for his belt. Gill then directed Cynthia to grab a tire iron to make an improvised tourniquet.
“I used the bar to twist the belt as tight as I could to stop the bleeding,” Gill said. “I had my wife grab a blanket out of the car so I could cover him up- so he didn’t see his amputated leg and go into shock.”
Gill directed onlookers to call 911, get him a pen and notepad, and clear traffic to allow for helicopter landing.
“We kept him talking as much as possible to ensure he maintained consciousness and to give as much information as we could about him to the EMTs,” said Gill.
When EMTs arrived, Gill assisted them in applying a proper tourniquet, passed along the man’s information, and stepped away as the man was flown out by helicopter.
The man Gill saved is George Wingert, an 80-year-old Florida resident and Vietnam War Army veteran.
“If Dustin wasn’t there for me, I wouldn’t be here now,” Wingert said. “He was meant to be there. He’s a part of my life now.”
Gill learned to provide medical aid during Marine Corps training he received leading up to his two deployments in Afghanistan. Gill served as a machine gunner in a security platoon in 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, during his second tour in Afghanistan.
“I’m grateful for the training because it obviously had an impact,” said Gill. “Going down to my honeymoon, I didn’t think anything like that was going to happen, but I’m glad I knew how to react.”
Since the incident, Dustin and Cynthia Gill have been keeping close contact with George.
“Dustin and his wife came down Saturday, and they spent several hours here,” Wingert said. “They’re phenomenal.”
Daniel Wingert, George’s Grandson, said Dustin and Cynthia made the difference in saving George’s life. “I want to commend him for the job well done,” said Daniel. “I’ve always had great respect for the Marines and the job that they do. It just shows how people can come together and be there when needed to help.”
According to Gill, any Marine with the same training would have helped in the situation. “It was an unfortunate circumstance that day, but I’m glad I was there when I was. I wish George a speedy recovery.”