It was a typical July 4th at Bass Lake with plenty of boats cutting through the water pulling skiers and wake boarders Along with hundreds of swimmers seeking relief from the heat. Such was the scene at the swim cove at the Forks Resort, with plenty of children and adults in the water and many more on shore But only one, Ben Faler, a Marine stationed at Camp Pendelton, noticed two boys struggling in the water about 6 p.m.
"At first I wasn't sure if they were just playing around, but then I realized they were struggling to stay afloat and were in trouble," Faler said.
Faler, 32, said the boys inner-tube had floated from shore and one of the boys went into the water to retrieve it, but seemed to be having trouble staying afloat. The second boy went into the water to help at which time the first boy grabbed onto his brother.
"They both went under the water and then I could tell they were in trouble," Faler said.
Faler, who was swimming about 20 yards from the boys, swam as fast as he could to reach the boys who were going under for the second time.
"One was screaming help and as I got closer, I could hear them gasping for air and taking water in," Faler said. "I grabbed them both and got them to shore. They were both pretty scared and shook up."
The boys, half brothers Logan Werho, 11, and Milo Lunsford, 12, were with family from Scio, Oregon. Neither boy was wearing a life jacket.
The boys and their family thanked Faler for his willingness to put his own life in danger to rescue them.
"I felt honored to be able to help those boys and be part of a life-saving incident," Faler said. "I'm just glad they were okay and thankful for the training I received from the United States Marine Corps."
Faler, who's hometown is Lake Elsinore, has been a Marine for 13 years. He was visiting Bass Lake with his wife Jennifer, 3-year-old son Cash, and the family dog Rocky.
On his way to the lake, Faler stopped at the Freedom Fest in Coarsegold and spent time at the Marine Corps Griswold Detachments' booth, where he learned that Chance Gaal was from Oakhurst. Gaal, a 2006 Yosemite High graduate, lost both his legs from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan in June 2011.
"Two years ago, I was working with the Wounded Warrior Battalion West at the San Diego Naval Medical Center, Balboa, when I met Chance," Faler said. "Last time I saw Chance he was driving a converted car with hand controls that this area's Marine Corps Detachment helped pay for. "He was in good spirits, excited to get his car."