NEWS

Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD)
Executive Officer is "Johnny on the spot"

By Darrell D. Ames, JTF-HD Public Affairs


Army Major John Parrish directs traffic during Operation Snow Storm in Palau Army Major John Parrish directs traffic during Operation Snow Storm in Palau. (JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

Being in the right place at the right time is often considered "blind luck." Whatever the circumstances there is a Japanese couple that is extremely grateful that U.S. Army Major John Parrish was in a certain place at a certain time recently. Parrish happened to be nearby when the couple’s three-year-old daughter fell into a five-foot deep pond at the Palau Pacific Resort in Koror, Republic of Palau (ROP). His quick reaction saved the toddler’s life.

"I was walking back to my room when I saw three little Japanese girls playing next to the pond," Parrish said. "I noticed one of them fall in and slide into water over her head. She started crying and was beginning to go under. There were a couple of stingrays in the pond as well so I just wanted to get her out of there as soon as I could," said Parrish.

Parrish, Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD) executive officer and Army Ranger, was in the ROP to observe and evaluate Operation Snow Storm, an anthrax contamination exercise spearheaded by the Palauan Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Emergency Health Program (EHP).

Pond at Palau Pacific Resort where Major Parrish rescued a small Japanese child Pond at Palau Pacific Resort where Major Parrish rescued a small Japanese child. (Official JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

"There is no way any of us could have gotten to that little girl in time," said Barbara Cooper, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Center for Disease Control (CDC) representative. "I had just stepped out on my Lanai and witnessed the whole thing," said Cooper.

Parrish, a simple and humble man, didn’t want to make a "big deal" out of the situation. "I just happened to be heading back to my room from my workout," Parrish said. "Anybody else would have done the same thing had they been right there at that particular moment."

Army Major John Parrish during Operation Snow Storm in Palau Army Major John Parrish during Operation Snow Storm in Palau. (JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

"It didn’t surprise me when I heard about it," said JTF-HD Director of Operations J3, Col. David Norton. "It was an unselfish and heroic move and it saved a young child’s life. I would expect nothing less from him," Norton said.

JTF-HD, with its Defense Coordinating Element, is based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and is designated as the Homeland Defense coordinating agency between the Department of Defense and the civilian authorities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands as well as three foreign governments in the JOA to include the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Working closely with Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and military organizations in the Pacific, JTF-HD maintains situational awareness, helps coordinate implementation of a comprehensive Critical Infrastructure Protection Program across the JOA, and when required, coordinates and provides DOD resources to help save lives and prevent great property damage. MAJ Parrish’s actions in Palau are consistent with that mission.