Second Lt. James Lamoreaux, a Fort Benning soldier, doesn’t recall much about the day he rescued two boys from the Chattahoochee River, but he admits his lifeguard skills kicked in as soon as he realized the boys were in trouble.
“I honestly don’t remember much other than the adrenaline rush,” the Army officer said Tuesday. “I knew what was going on and what had to happen. Thank goodness it happened.”
For his life-saving actions on March 15 near 11th Street and Bay Avenue, Lamoreaux was presented a Community Valor Award from the Columbus Department of Fire & Emergency Medical Services and a proclamation of thanks from Mayor Teresa Tomlinson in Columbus Council chambers.
The soldier and his wife of four months, Shannon, were walking along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk in Columbus when he saw the current sweep a 9-year-old and 15-year-old into the river. A trained lifeguard from Meridian, Miss., before joining the military, Lamoreaux pulled both of the boys onto the rocks where a rescue team was able to reach them.
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“When he saw the kids were having trouble, he didn’t hesitate to jump in the water,” said Robert Futrell, deputy chief of Columbus Fire & Emergency Medical Services. “In talking with the boat crew that went and got them off the rocks, they said if he hadn’t done that, the kids wouldn’t have survived.”
The younger boy went into the water first just south of the area known as Cut Bait, and the older boy went in after him, Futrell said. Both became victims of the swift current. “That is normally what happens,” Futrell said. “They see something like that and they will jump in and they become a victim.”
Authorities have been unable to reach the boys after the rescue.
Futrell cautioned anyone from doing what Lamoreaux did to save the boys.
“We don’t recommend the general public do what he did,” he said. “Many times those who come to the rescue become a victim. In this case, he knew how to swim.”
In addition to his training as a lifeguard, the officer said he also has rescue training from the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Kelley Hill where he serves with the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.
When asked why he was at that location on that particular day, Lamoreaux said, “Honestly, I give God the glory for that. I’m a trained lifeguard. It happened so that I was there at the time and I had the necessary skills.”
Getting attention for his actions though is weird, the lieutenant said.
“I know it’s for a great cause,” he said. “I thank the city of Columbus and fire and rescue for being on the spot and rescuing us.”
Lamoreaux said he didn’t realize what happened until maybe the next day. While he was proclaimed a hero, he said the fire and rescue personnel are heroes for doing the job daily.
“Every single day, they may not get the attention they deserve, but again I’m giving them the attention,” the officer said. “They are the everyday heroes.”
Futrell said the soldier deserves the award.
“He is not only a hero for our military, but a hero for our community for his actions.”