U.S. Navy Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Wetter, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the gunnery training division with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, received the Navy Medal and of the Marine Corps, June 30, by Brig. General Jason Woodworth, Commanding General of MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton, for the heroism he displayed in December 2020 when he rescued a family from a burning vehicle.
“The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the only medal you can earn in the entire Department of the Navy for acts of heroism without being in combat,” Woodworth said at the ceremony.
In December 2020, Wetter was on what he thought was a typical ride home when he witnessed gasoline dropping from a nearby truck. The can got lodged under the car in front of him – the Hurley family car. Sparks started flying under the car and a fire immediately broke out.
“Immediately I was like I had to help them in any way I could.” Artillery Sergeant. Kyle Wetter, SNCO Marksmanship Training Division Manager
“All I could think about at first was what happened?” said Wetter. “Immediately I was like I had to help them in any way I could.”
The car’s driver, Anthony Hurley, slammed the brakes and pulled to a stop, forcing Wetter to do the same. Wetter ran to the car and began to analyze the situation. The fire extinguisher Wetter brought with him from his vehicle was no match for the fire, which at this point had too much fuel.
Hurley and his wife had already escaped from the burning car, but were unable to get their young daughter out of her car seat. The father, Anthony, was already trying to get the child out without success. At that point, Wetter got into the burning car and tried to unbuckle the seat belt, but to no avail. He then grabbed his pocket knife and pulled the child out of the car seat.
Photo by Lance Cpl. Andre Cortez
U.S. Navy Gunnery Sgt. Kyle Wetter, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the firearms training division with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations West, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, waits to receive a medal from Marine and of Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Jason Woodworth and Sgt. Maj. Matthew Hackett, commanding general and sergeant major of MCI-West, MCB Camp Pendleton, during an awards ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 30, 2022. Wetter was awarded for heroism qu posted in December 2020 to save a family when he saw a car catch fire on the side of a road while driving home. Wetter climbed into the backseat of the burning car and used a pocket knife to free a child from his car seat.
Wetter’s entire unit attended his ceremony, along with his friends and family. More importantly for Wetter, the Hurleys were also there to see him receive the Marine Corps‘ highest non-combat honor for his heroism.
“All I can say is I’m glad he was there that day because he saved our firstborn,” said Anthony Hurley. “She wouldn’t be here today if not for her heroic actions.”