Washington, D.C. — It was a deceptively beautiful September day in the nation’s capital. No severe weather was expected, but by that afternoon several inches of rain had fallen in parts of the district.
No one was more caught off-guard than Virginia Waller-Torres of Hagerstown, Maryland. She was coming down an exit ramp when she ran headlong into a flash flood. The water hit her car with such force that it tore off her license plate. Her car wouldn’t budge in the deep water.
“It was scary,” she said. “I thought I could die.”
Waller-Torres, a woman of faith, says she has never prayed harder than she did at that moment.
A minute passed and what Waller-Torres saw was the next best thing to the hand of God. Marines, in dress blues, seemed to appear out of nowhere.
“For a second it was like, is this real?” Waller-Torres said. “So I had to take my phone out and start recording it.”
The elite group, known as the Body Bearers, has the mission of shouldering the burden of American grief at Arlington National Cemetery — the small unit carries the caskets of Marines to their final resting place.
They are men so humble in their charge that they rarely give interviews and were especially reluctant to talk about rescuing Waller-Torres that day.
But they spoke with CBS News because they thought there could be a lesson in this. “The more I thought about it, I was like, this is kind of like a platform to tell people to be the one to get out of your car. That’s gotta be the takeaway,” Corporal Matthew Bouchard said.
In other words, it should be the motto of all Americans — to leave no man behind, not in war, not in a flood, not anywhere, in any way.
“They didn’t ask who we were, they just helped selflessly,” Waller-Torres said. “And they didn’t leave us behind that day.”