N. TOPSAIL BEACH – A teenager struggling in the water near an ocean pier was rescued by a US Marine last week.
Sergeant Stephan A. Gladding, 25, who is with Battalion Landing Team 3/8, 26th MEU, was at the beach in the early afternoon on Aug. 7.
He’d brought his surfboard and intended to do some surfing when he noticed someone struggling to stay above water.
A teenager had drifted in about 200 yards from the shore and approximately 100 yards from the far end of the Seaview Pier.
Gladding jumped on his surfboard and paddled out to retrieve the teenager.
“I saw him and didn’t see any boats coming or anyone else jumping in so I just started paddling as hard and as fast as I could,” Gladding said. “I thought I was his only hope.”
Gladding put the teen on his surfboard and brought him back to shore where authorities from North Topsail Beach took over.
Gladding noted that there were strong rip currents that day.
Rip current warnings had been issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration because of the lunar tides and the remnants of Tropical Storm Colin.
Gladding is stationed at U.S. Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. His hometown is Portland, Michigan.