Story by 2nd Lt. Isaac Listo
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII-On June 30, 2021, Lance Cpl. Tercell T. Byrd, a rifleman with 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroic actions saving a woman’s life in the face of significant personal risk.
On April 28, 2018, Byrd, a native of Newport News, Virginia was four weeks out of boot camp on his first off-base liberty. After receiving his Eagle, Globe, and Anchor, Byrd had been placed in a holding company due to fractures in both shins endured during the final 54-hour cumulating exercise titled “The Crucible.”
“It was my first time being off of the island. I got a motel and ate dinner with the guys,” Byrd said. “I woke up pretty late the next morning and was coming back from breakfast when the situation happened.”
Byrd was crossing the lobby when he heard screams coming from a hallway behind the reception desk.
“The next scream was just horrible. That scream was enough for me to jump over the counter to go see what was happening.”
Byrd sprinted down the hallway towards the screams. He made a left through a doorway and saw a man with a knife holding the receptionist by the hair. Byrd noticed blood dripping from the woman’s hand.
“When I saw that, I realized this was more serious than I thought. That’s when I immediately went into action.”
Byrd ran, jumped, and kicked the assailant knocking him to the ground. Byrd pulled the woman behind himself to make sure she was safe and then turned his attention to the aggressor.
“He was trying to stab me, and I was trying to take the knife out of his hand, but he was strong. He wasn’t normal. He was on something.”
Byrd was able to incapacitate the attacker by repeatedly kneeing him in the head. While the man was down, Byrd rushed the woman to a stairwell where he used a motel bedsheet to apply first-aid to her injured hand. Paramedics arrived and rushed the woman to the hospital.
“You can’t be scared to put yourself in a situation like that. You have fear, but you have to conquer that fear. You have to be confident that you can get the duty done. That’s what I did.”
Lt. Col. George R. Gordy IV, Commanding Officer, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division, addressed his Marines after the award ceremony.
“Lance Corporal Byrd’s actions contribute to the long, illustrious line of history that we all inherited as Marines,” said Lt. Col. Gordy. “In the face of danger, Lance Corporal Byrd showed a significant amount of courage and fortitude. Fight, win, then get ready for the next fight, wherever that fight may be. That’s what we do.”
The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the highest non-combat medal for heroism awarded by the Marine Corps.