Bay County Marine honored for saving drowning victim


PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — From Panama City to Okinawa, Japan, Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Billy Dixson is no stranger to beautiful beaches.

In October, Dixson was pole spearing at a popular dive spot in Okinawa, where he is stationed, when he heard a woman calling for help.

“I went to her first to assist because she was the one screaming for help,” Dixson said. “Then I come to find out that it wasn’t her that was in need of help, it was her friend. So I passed off my gear to her and went to retrieve her friend that was actually under the water at the time in the midst of a rip current.”

Dixson said he did not know what to expect when he got there.

“Normally if someone is drowning, they’ll be on top of the water. But I couldn’t see her at all on the surface,” Dixson said. “I kind of went into a panic, just the fear of the unknown. But once I got there, someone just told me to go down and see if she was below the surface and sure enough she was down around three meters below the surface and pretty unresponsive at the time.”

About three months ago, Dixson was involved in a vehicle accident that tore some joints in his knees, broke his hand and damaged his kidney. He turned to swimming throughout his recovery and that’s why he happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“A lot of guys do things like this all around the community and it’s humbling to be able to strive to be the best every day,” Dixson said. “We push ourselves out of the comfort zone a lot.”

On Nov. 13, Dixson received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his actions.

Dixson graduated from Bay High in 2011 before joining the Marines and comes back to visit his family in Bay County whenever he is stateside.

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