When teens whipped out a knife during an altercation at a Virginia Chick-fil-A on Saturday, three nearby Marines intervened to break up the fight — and break the knife in half.
Lance Cpl. Nicholas Dural, Cpl. John Darby and Cpl. Bradley Feldkamp on Thursday received Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their actions at the Stafford, Virginia, restaurant.
“Our Marine brain just kind of kicked in,” Darby told reporters Thursday.
The Marines, who graduated from Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, nine-week embassy security guard training March 9, were getting lunch at the Chick-fil-A in the middle of running errands.
Having finished his meal, Dural was about to walk over to a barbershop to get his hair ready for formation on Monday. But he lingered a little longer because Feldkamp had to finish an extra order of fries.
That meant he was there when two teenage boys, aged 17 and 14, approached a male seated at the Chick-fil-A and got into a brief argument with him, according to the Marines and the local sheriff’s office. The seated male pushed the pair, knocking them into a nearby woman, Dural said. A fight ensued.
Dural went to check on the woman. Meanwhile, Feldkamp and Darby held back a fourth male from getting involved in the brawl, they said.
“Hey, take this outside,” the Marines recalled shouting at the teens.
Then Dural saw one of the two alleged attackers pull out a knife. Instinct kicked in.
As Dural had learned to do in Marine Security Guard training, he grabbed the wrist of the teen holding the knife and twisted.
Dural said he put so much pressure on the top of the blade that the knife snapped. The blade flew into the air and slid across the floor, according to Darby, who scooped it up and handed it to a Chick-fil-A employee.
The alleged assailants darted out the back door, the Marines said. They took with them the alleged victim’s cellphone, but no one was stabbed, according to a Monday statement by the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.
A sheriff’s deputy later nabbed the alleged perpetrators and took them to a juvenile detention center to await a court hearing held Monday, according to the statement. Both teens face charges of assault and battery and robbery, and the 17-year-old faces an additional charge of attempted felony wounding.
Because they are juveniles, the sheriff’s office hasn’t released their names.
Dural eventually made it to the barbershop for his haircut. He didn’t even tell his barber what had just happened at the Chick-fil-A.
“I try to be as humble as possible,” he said.
In the statement Monday, the sheriff’s office publicly thanked the “hero Marines” who stepped in to prevent the altercation from getting worse. Local media outlets first reported the Marines’ actions.
Lt. Col. Matthew McNerney, executive officer for Marine embassy security, and Gunnery Sgt. Aric Lonchar, chief instructor at the Marine Security Guard School, presented the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals at Thursday’s ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, according to Marine spokesman Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Bragg.
Darby and Feldkamp departed for their posts at the U.S. embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, later Thursday, and Dural is scheduled to depart for the U.S. embassy in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, next Tuesday, according to Bragg.
Dural told reporters he wanted to become an embassy security guard so he could take care of others.
“I want to be that strong person that anybody can trust,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to do that. I was like that for my sisters when I grew up with them. And I would love to do that for the rest of the world.”
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.
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