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6th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruiting Command

MCRD Parris Island, S.C.
Georgia Marine saves local man’s life

By Sgt. Courtney White | 6th Marine Corps District | March 14, 2014

BUFORD, Ga. --

There are a few who move toward the sounds of chaos, ready to respond at a moments notice. 

For Marine recruiter Sgt. Matthew Sullivan that moment came on Sunday, March 9, when he witnessed a truck engulfed in flames on the shoulder of I-85N at Old Peachtree Road. 

“I pulled my vehicle over to the shoulder about 75 meters behind the truck,” said Sullivan, a recruiter with Recruiting Sub-Station Buford and native of Lawrenceville, Ga. “As I sprinted toward the vehicle I observed a man covered in flames escaping from the passenger side of the truck.”

Sullivan began instructing the 26-year-old driver to drop to the ground and roll to extinguish the flames and soon noted the possibility of a secondary explosion. He then grabbed the victim by the armpits and pulled the man to safety, at which point other good Samaritans began assisting the situation. 

A veteran soldier helped in directing traffic away from the scene, and a woman provided a bottle of water which Sullivan used to help put out the remaining fire from the victim’s clothing. A lance corporal driving home from his reserve drill unit on Dobbins Air Reserve Base also helped by providing water and a first aid kit. 

Sullivan continued to console the man as rescue workers were already in route to the scene.

“I just kept repeating to the man ‘You are alive, as long as you are breathing and screaming you are alive! Help is on the way,’” said Sullivan as he triaged the victim, assessing for any broken bones or further injuries before the arrival of emergency personnel.

The first officer on scene was Officer Paul Robinson of the uniformed division of the central precinct of the Gwinnett Police Department. 

The only people who stopped to help the situation were two Marines, a soldier and a firefighter’s wife, according to Robinson.

“They did everything that you are supposed to do and could ask of a bystander,” said Robinson. “They could have continued to pass by but instead went above and beyond.”

The victim was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center before being transferred to Grady Hospital’s burn unit. The victim remains in critical condition.

“Afterwards, when all the adrenaline recessed, I took a moment to pray for the man,” said Sullivan. “I really believe I was meant to be there that day to help him.”

Image Imagefire ImageGeorgia Imagehero ImageMarine ImageRecruiting Sub-Station Buford Imagetruck


  • Barbara E Roberts 136 days ago
    I am not a Marine but I have worked with them on a number of projects and I just want to say how proud I am that we are being protected by men and women like this young Marine. Thank you for your bravery on a daily basis.

    God Bless You!!!
  • Gary Sullivan 181 days ago
    Often times such acts of selfless heroism go unnoticed by the media and general public. It is nice to know that this act was brought to the publics attention. I pray for the burn victim and the victims family. I also pray and give thanks to those who have gone into harms way, whether recognized or not, to give assistance and aid to those in need with no other agenda but to help as needed. To this fine 2/8 Marine (as I have always called him) I say thank you and bless you. Your Marine Corps training is serving you well. The fact that you implemented your training to unselfishly give assistance to someone in dire need speaks volumes to your character and bearing.
    Love you always.
  • Gary Sullivan 182 days ago
    I'm so happy that this type of spontaneous personal courage still happens and gets duly noticed. I also know that sometimes other acts of similar courage do not and that's a shame. I pray for the young man who was injured as well as his family and I wish for the young man a full recovery in time. This 2/8 Marine, Sgt. Sullivan, has always made me proud. Through the years I have always said to him, "Train hard, study hard and play hard but smart." It looks like his training kicked in, and he did the smart things to facilitate the chances for survival for the victim. I love that Marine.
    His Dad
  • Joe 188 days ago
    folks afrais of being sued for helping, Marines don't have that problem
    Semper Fi
  • jerry jameson 188 days ago
    to all marines and the veteran who assisted in saving this mans life semper fi delis.. hope he gets to see yall again soon after hes released from the hospital.. def desereve rocognition from chains of command and our beloved marine corps.. awesome job. no matter where civilians are theres always a us marine and veterans close by to help in a moments notice
  • Eddie C Fouse Jr 188 days ago
    Job Well Done to all that helped

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