A Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center student received the prestigious peacetime Soldier’s Medal award Oct. 18 for having saved the life of a local man in a diving accident that took place on Sept. 8, 2012, in the Monterey Bay area.
Staff Sgt. Eric J. Meas earned the medal for his actions in rescuing a fellow diver after Meas noticed that the diver had lost consciousness at the depth of 50 feet.
Without regard for his own short air supply, Meas was able to bring the diver to the surface where he administered rescue chest compressions and emergency breathing until help arrived.
“It gives me tremendous pride to recognize Staff Sgt. Eric Meas for his heroic actions. It is not often tested to the level he was (in the accident), said DLIFLC Commandant Col. Danial D. Pick. “It is what every one of us needs to be doing every day – taking care of our buddies, inside the classroom and out.”
Meas received the award during Organization Day at the Institute, in front of more than 4,000 service members standing in formation on Soldier Field. The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to a U.S. service member or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy.
“We had decided to do a deep water dive to 105 feet that day,” said Meas, recounting the events of the day. Meas had been paired with Dave Neely that day, a fellow diver whom he had met through the Advanced Open Water Course.
“At about 50 feet I noticed that he was showing signs of being out of air,” explained Meas, adding that he tried to help him by giving him air and by filling his buoyancy compensator that is used to help maintain position of the body in the water. “But he started to go back down.”
Calculating what to do next, Meas noticed that his own air supply was short. “I had only 200 PSI, not enough for a safe ascent.” Disregarding his own safety, in a split second Meas decided to go down to grab Neely and sling his arm though the straps of his buddy’s air tank.
“I filled his buoyancy compensator all the way and then kicked as hard as I could. We surfaced in about 10 seconds, which is extremely dangerous,” explained Meas.
As soon as he reached the surface, Meas called for help on the boat with the group’s dive master. He then administered rescue breathing to attempt to get the water out of Neely's lungs. “It seemed like a long while before the dive master arrived,” recounted Meas. As soon as they reached the shore, the Coast Guard and Fire Departments took over and transported Neely to the nearest hospital.
Meas is currently a student of the Arabic language at DLIFLC which is the Department of Defense’s premier foreign language provider.
Photo and story by Natela Cutter
1. Staff Sgt. Eric J. Meas (center) poses with his wife Dana (left) and Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Commandant Col. Danial D. Pick after the receipt of the prestigious Soldier’s Medal on Soldier Field Oct. 18, 2013.
2. Staff Sgt. Eric J. Meas (right) and Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center Commandant Col. Danial D. Pick stand during the reading of the citation for the Soldier’s Medal, Oct. 18, 2013 on Soldier Field.