MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Timothy Cottell received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal in a ceremony next to the National Museum of the Marine Corps April 8, 2022.
Marine Corps Systems Command Brig. Gen. Arthur Pasagian presented Cottell, Combat Development Directorate, Combat Development and Integration, with the award due to his life-saving actions while serving as an executive officer with Bravo Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division Dec. 10, 2019.
On that day, then 1st Lt. Cottell and his Marines were participating in Exercise Steel Knight, which required them to conduct a wet gap crossing of the Colorado River in a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV). As one of their LAVs began to cross, it started taking on water and was quickly pulled out into the river, turning upstream before ultimately sinking to the riverbed.
“The situation was not going well and just kept getting worse,” said Cottell. “I was able to see from the shore that all the Marines were able to exit the LAV except for the driver.”
Cottell detached his personal protective equipment and entered the frigid river, swimming approximately 60 feet from the shore then descending 15 feet underwater to reach the submerged vehicle.
“I was just doing what was expected,” said Cottell. “There were three other Marines out there with me. Without them, none of this would’ve happened.”
Cottell and his platoon commander reached the submerged LAV then Cottell pulled the driver out of the vehicle and began prepping him for CPR. The platoon commander cleared the driver’s airway while Cottell was responsible for the driver’s breathing, conducting four rounds of CPR to save the drivers’ life.
“I have been CPR certified prior to the United States Marine Corps, but it has since expired,” said Cottell. “I was very grateful for having attended the MCIWS course, which refreshed my CPR knowledge and the difference for performing it for drowning victims.”
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combat medal for heroism awarded by the Marine Corps. According to his medal citation, Cottell’s courageous and prompt actions in the face of personal risk reflected great credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
“I believe the Marine Corps’ expectation to stay calm and perform under pressure helped,” said Cottell. “From start to finish, everyone knew we needed to think clearly and work together.”
Cottell, a Monroe, Connecticut, native, graduated from St. Joseph High School in 2011. He studied engineering in 2016 at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. Shortly after, Cottell attended Officer Candidate School, The Basic School, and Infantry Officer Course before commissioning as a second lieutenant.