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NEWS | Aug. 26, 2021

Task Force Oceania Soldier saves child from drowning

By Lt. Col. Steven Johnston Task Force Oceania

A U.S. Army Pacific Task Force Oceania (TF-O) Soldier saved a young boy from drowning during an enculturation training at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC) Wednesday, August 11. The PCC was closed to the public that day, and is closed every Wednesday and Sunday.

Army Sgt. Anthony Tunstall was accompanying a team of Soldiers conducting an escorted visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center when their escort responded to a medical emergency involving a drowning child.

The escort pulled the seemingly lifeless body of the child from the Tongan lagoon and Tunstall, who is a trained Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT-B) responded to the scene and started providing first-aid and CPR to the child.

Other Soldiers on the scene immediately called 911 while Tunstall continued to perform first-aid and CPR. Tunstall was able to revive and stabilize the child until paramedics arrived.

“I’m just thankful that I was in the right place at the right time so that I could provide medical assistance,” said Tunstall. “I’m grateful for all of the medical training that the Army has put into me. That training means that a young child can continue to experience life.”

The child was taken to The Queens Medical Center in Honolulu for continued monitoring and follow-on care. The child was later transferred to Kaiser Permanente Moanalua Medical Center and has since been released from the hospital.

“My son, Vini, is doing well. He’s awake and fighting off the wires. He got up and just went to his mommy to hold him, said the child’s father, Ulise Funaki. “Please let Sgt. Tunstall know of our love for him.”

Tunstall is a Soldier assigned to the 83rd Civil Affairs Battalion based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is currently attached to the 9th MSC as a member of Task Force Oceania. Task Force Oceania is a multi-component Army task force designed to build and cultivate relationships with the countries located in Oceania, which includes the regions of Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia. The Soldiers were visiting PCC as means of gaining greater understanding of the culture and people of Polynesia through cultural immersion.

Tunstall received his EMT-Basic training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, as part of his Advanced Individual Training as an Army Combat Medic Specialist. He received follow on training while completing the Expeditionary Combat Medic Course at the US Army Medical Department Center and School (AMEDDC&S), Academy of Health Sciences (AHS.)