By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Barnes
In the digital era, the speed of communication has brought the world closer than ever. Thousands of miles can be closed instantly through text, and a press of a button can save a life, even across continents.
It was a typical morning for Electronics Technician 1st Class Luke Halseth, a maintenance leading Petty Officer assigned to Submarine Group Eight, when he took proactive measures to save the life of a veteran and a friend.
“I woke up and went to brush my teeth and noticed I had 30 messages on my phone,” said Halseth. “I could tell something was not right.”
Halseth had previously gone through a substance abuse rehabilitation program, during which he formed a bond with the texter, whose life he would later play a role in saving. During group counseling the two of them hit it off and started spending time together.
“Group sessions are open, revealing and raw,” said Halseth. “You really get to know the person sitting next to you.”
Although, through the program the two would go out for lunches and check up on each other, it was when Halseth decided to further his career in the Navy and his friend separated that their friendship drifted apart.
Then, out of the blue, Halseth received increasingly aggressive texts, which revealed that his friend had been consuming drugs and alcohol.
Halseth sprang into action, and remembering that his friend lived in San Diego, he called the city’s emergency police line.
“Hey there is this guy whose name is John Doe and this is what I know about him,” Halseth said to the dispatcher, including as many details as he could remember. “I’m pretty sure he lives in San Diego and he said he is killing himself.”
Working with the dispatcher over the phone, they found an old address that showed promise of belonging to his friend.
Then, after 20 minutes, he received a hopeful message from a mutual friend. An ambulance had arrived, and his friend would be taken care of.
In saving a life, Halseth exhibited several Signature Behaviors developed in conjunction with the Secretary of the Navy’s 21st Century Sailor initiative as means to emphasize the honorable behavior that Sailors exhibit on a daily basis.
Halseth earned a Bravo Strike from Adm. Robert P. Burk, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, in recognition for saving another person’s life.
“I think the most important thing is if there is even an inkling that somebody is suffering and that they might possibly take their life, you need to act,” said Halseth.
Naval Forces Europe-Africa, headquartered in Naples, Italy, Conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.