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Marine who rescued woman honored with award in his name

Sgt. Marcus Santana summed up his feelings in one word: “Overwhelmed.”

Sgt. Santana, a Marine from Flanders, was honored Friday afternoon by the NAACP’s Eastern Long Island Branch for his heroics to aid an elderly woman who collapsed while crossing the street near the Riverside traffic circle in November.

While Sgt. Santana knew he was going to be honored at the ceremony at the Riverhead Free Library, he didn’t know one big surprise. He was presented a plaque for what will be an award bearing his name: the Sgt. Marcus L. Santana Special Recognition Award.

The plaque notes the award is “in acknowledgement of your courage, heroic action & commitment to our community on November 24th, 2020.”

“What you did has created a legacy for yourself,” said Lawrence Street, president of the Eastern Long Island Branch. “What we’ve done with the Eastern Long Island Branch of the NAACP is we want to continue your legacy. … Your legacy will continue with our branch forever.”

Sgt. Santana, 27, who grew up in Riverhead, also received a year of free membership to the NAACP.

Elena Rivera-Williams, the membership chair, and Kiesha Washington Dean, the secretary, presented Sgt. Santana with the membership.

“It is not rare for a community to be in need of heartfelt and equitable assistance for the betterment of individuals,” Ms. Rivera-Williams said. “Bravery is a sought after behavior.”

She added that they are in high hopes that others will follow Sgt. Santana’s example.

“Today you are rightfully the first to receive this award,” she said.

Sgt. Santana said he has visited the woman he helped save twice since that late November day, once after Thanksgiving and again before Christmas. He said the woman is doing well.

“Her family was very thankful,” said Sgt. Santana, who’s currently a recruiter for the Marines and works in Riverhead.

Sgt. Santana was also honored with a proclamation by the Riverhead Town Board in December.