Face of Defense: Airman, Friends Rescue Drowning Girl

July 26, 2018

An airman and two of his friends helped to save a young girl from drowning at Fort Monroe Beach, Virginia, May 13.

When medical services arrived, they found a young girl that had been rescued from the water and was in her mother’s arms. The 9 year old had gone swimming. The current took her into deeper waters where she could no longer stand and was getting closer to the rocks.

“My friend got up and said, ‘That little girl is in the water,’” said Air Force Tech Sgt. Richard Penny, a toolset administrator with the 633rd Air Base Wing Inspector General’s office here.

It was at that moment that Penny, along with his friends Ashley Staley and Adam Bradshaw, sprang into action.

At first, Penny and his friends couldn’t locate the girl. He remembers getting to the top of the rocks and seeing her in the water.


“Then we heard her mom come sprinting and shouting, ‘Help my daughter! She can’t swim and I can’t, either,’” Penny said.

Penny and Staley started climbing down the sharp-slippery rocks until they reached what they thought was shallow water.

“We weren’t expecting the water to be so deep that close to the rocks, but it was over our heads,” Penny said.

Soon after, Bradshaw arrived after swimming around the rocks in search for the girl, and helped to bring her back to the edge of the rocks.

“At this point, the water was just beating us against the rocks,” Penny said. “The water was just crazy. It was really, really rough that day.”

After getting the little girl and Staley out of the water, Penny and Bradshaw were met by friends that helped to get them out of the water.

Penny, Staley and Bradshaw each earned a citizen lifesaving certificate, and they’ll receive a medal at a later date from the Hampton, Virginia, Division of Fire and Rescue.