Drawing on his military experience, a Shippensburg University student recently rescued an eight-year old boy from a dangerous boating situation in Florida.

Timothy Chadwick, a senior political science major, was at Boca Gran Beach during Spring Break last month when he heard yelling and recognized that something was wrong. According to Chadwick, about 300 meters out from the beach was a boat with no power and an individual yelling from the boat. After following the drifting boat, Chadwick realized the boat was abandoned except for a young boy. As the boat drifted nearer to the shore, it began smashing into pylons at an old dock. Chadwick swam out, convinced the boy to jump out and pulled him to shore.

Chadwick said the riptide and undertow were some of the worst he has ever experienced. Chadwick’s girlfriend, Becky Baker, met him and the boy where she could stand and helped pull them out of the ocean. “I didn’t think about the horrible riptide and horrendous undertow. I just thought this boat is in dire need. It might capsize.”

The boy’s father and friend were thrown overboard when a wave hit the boat. After Chadwick got the boy to shore, he was informed the boy’s father had been found further down the shore and reunited the father and son. Four days after Chadwick’s heroic intervention, a third person who was thrown from the boat was found dead.

Although the situation was dangerous, Chadwick said, “That kid was scared enough for the both of us. I didn’t have time to be afraid, it was an on-the-fly decision. Nobody wants to see someone in that position. If I had a kid out there, I would want someone to do the same thing I did.”

Chadwick believes his two tours in Iraq as a staff sergeant in the Army helped him make the right decisions to help him save the boy. “Gathering all the information available to formulate your decision and the best practices for making it happen is something I learned and developed while leading men in combat.”

The military permeates other aspects of Chadwick’s life. He has been a collector of military memorabilia and artifacts for 10 years. Some of his favorite collection items are on display in Ezra Lehman Memorial library. On the first floor, war bonds posters and the uniform of Henry Cabot Lodge Jr., former President Richard Nixon’s running mate and the first senator to resign to join combat forces, are on display. In the basement, World War I artifacts are on display until Chadwick graduates next month.

“Its about preserving history and my love for it all,” said Chadwick.