The iconic slogan, “The Few…The Proud…The Marines” along with a brief video clip made its debut in 1977 as a recruiting tagline, enticing young men into becoming United States Marines.
On September 16th 2021, that iconic slogan once again proved true as a busload of America’s finest once again answered the call to “protect and serve”. A sudden deluge of rain turned the streets of our nation’s capitol within minutes into a dangerous swirling river of knee-deep water.
The surprise flash-flood suddenly engulfed everything within its path, stranding dozens of motorists within their cars. One of those frightened motorists was Virginia Waller-Torres who only moments before had driven past the much revered Arlington National Cemetery when the torrential downpour suddenly began. Within moments the terrified woman was watching through her side-window the floodwaters rising all around her. All she could do was pray for a miracle, hoping that the swirling river around her would stop rising.
The miracle she had prayed for was just outside her rainswept front window in a bus directly in front of her automobile. The words emblazoned “MARINES” appeared as six U.S. Marines dressed in their iconic Dress Blues suddenly exited their bus and began wading through the swirling water towards her vehicle.
“It was like they were sent from somewhere else, from a higher power,” Virginia Waller-Torres said. “I thought I could die, a truck could hit us. And it was as though, somebody heard me.”
Awe-struck by the unfolding scene of six Marines coming to her rescue Waller-Torres quickly hit the “record” button on her phone capturing the heartwarming moment. The Marines, all in their dress uniforms, were part of an elite unit called “Body Bearers” tasked with performing funeral service within the hallowed grounds of America’s Cemetery.
Marine Cpl. Mitchell Wojtowicz, later acknowledged; “If there was anyone who was going to be able to help her, it was us.”
Adding, “Because you’ve got six, 6-foot-tall, 230 to 240-pound guys.”
During her encounter with the six strapping young Marines Waller-Torres can be heard on her video saying “Marine power!” as her stalled car was pushed to drier ground.
The Hagerstown-based artist couldn’t wait to download and post her memorial encounter with America’s elite fighting force, racking up almost 1-million likes on TikTok.
“It’s just about doing the right thing when no one’s looking,” said Cpl. Jared Tosner, one of the Body Bearer rescuers. “We weren’t expecting anyone to be recording or looking. We just wanted to do the right thing.”
Virginia Waller-Torres met Monday with two of the half-dozen Marines who waded through knee-high water in their ceremonial white trousers during a downpour to push her Mini Cooper on Columbia Pike in Arlington, near the Pentagon.https://t.co/ImbxZyZ5vq— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) September 23, 2021
Waller-Torres reunited recently with two of the six Marines, Cpl. Wojtowicz and Cpl. Jared Tosner to once again thank them for their selfless act.
“We figured it would be a good idea to just lend a helping hand and help out our fellow American,” Tosner said.
The young woman acknowledged that her rescue was extremely personal, in that she comes from a military family; both her grandfather and her dad served in the armed forces, her grandfather in WWII, and her dad during the Persian Gulf War. “It was something so different. It was something that I can’t explain in words,” she said, thanking the Marines. “I am so grateful.”
The motto “Semper Fidelis” is a Latin phrase meaning “Always Faithful,” it distinguishes the bond developed and shared between all Marines. For those individual like Waller-Torres who was fortunate enough to encounter those six Honor Guards just as the floodwaters rose around her vehicle is indeed nothing short of a miracle.