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Sergeant Joshua J. Nodurft, RSS Fargo recruiter, receives the Navy and Marine Corps Medal Nov. 15, from Maj. Aaron Marx, Recruiting Station Twin Cities Commanding Officer, for life-saving actions in January 2004.

Photo by Cpl. Joshua Johnson

Recruiter helps save pilot from Cobra's fiery bite

15 Nov 2005 |

What does it take to be a successful Marine recruiter?  A strong work ethic? Vast knowledge of the Marine Corps? Communication skills above reproach?  How about heroism in the line of duty?

Sergeant Joshua J. Nodurft, canvassing recruiter for Recruiting Substation Fargo, is successful and a hero.

Nodurft was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal Nov. 15 for helping save a downed helicopter pilot from burning wreckage during a live-fire training exercise near Yuma, Ariz., in January 2004. 

Serving as a CH-53E senior crew chief, Nodurft’s helicopter responded to a mayday call from an AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopter. 

“We had no clue what we were getting into,” said Nodurft, an Oregon City, Ore., native.  “Once we landed, I just remember seeing a ball of fire.”

Showing complete disregard for his own safety, Nodurft and his crew sprinted toward the fiery wreckage and attempted to free a remaining trapped pilot.

As they struggled to free him, the blaze inched closer to the pilot, but they managed to keep the fire away by throwing sand on the flames, Nodurft said.

“I never once thought about the burning ordnance and rockets,” said the Corps seven-year veteran.  “I didn’t realize the danger until after we freed the pilot.” 

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is awarded to service members for acts of lifesaving, or attempted lifesaving, at the risk of one’s own life not involving enemy conflict, and is senior to the Bronze Star Medal.

Recruiting Station Twin Cities’ Commanding Officer, Maj. Aaron Marx, presented Nodurft with the award at the Fargo Military Entrance Processing Station with Nodurft's wife, son and colleagues present.

A former AH-1W pilot, Marx knows the Super Cobra pilots involved in the crash.  “I always wanted to know who saved that Marine,” he said.  Only later did he discover Nodurft is a recruiter under his command.

“It was a very proud moment to pin that medal on his chest,” said Marx.    

The recognition hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Fargo community.  “It’s great to have a feel-good story about a local Marine,” said Staff Sgt. Al Fowler, RSS Fargo SNCOIC.  “It shows that we’re here, there is a real-life hero in town, and it’s not just for actions in Iraq—it was during peacetime in the U.S.”
9th Marine Corps District