NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A local Marine put himself in harm’s way to save a woman from an attacker with a knife. He received a high honor from the military for his brave actions.

Lance Corporal Tercell Byrd was born and raised in Newport News. He graduated from Denbigh High School in 2013 and joined the Marines in 2018.

“Everything we learn in the military has a meaning to life. You know, whether we’re going to work or off work. It does pay off,” said Byrd.

Byrd learned that firsthand. Four weeks out of boot camp, in 2018, he was placed in a holding company because of fractures he suffered in both shins during the final 54-hour cumulating exercise titled “The Crucible.” He was finally able to go on his first off-base liberty in Savannah, Georgia with several other Marines.

Byrd said the group stayed at a motel. One morning he walked into the lobby to grab coffee when he heard screams.

“I went ahead, hopped over the desk, went through this doorway and saw that there was a hallway. I looked down the hallway and saw that this young female had already been stabbed. At the time, somewhere in the arm, but it was actually in her hand. She had blood running down her hands. The tall gentleman, was an African male, was trying to pull her to a separate room. I knew that if she went in that room that it could have been very bad, and so that’s when I just sprinted to action. Me and him got in a good scuffle for, I would say about 3, 4, 5 minutes and he had a knife. I didn’t have no weapons, and I had put myself in danger, but I was able to get the female away from the aggressor.”

The man with the knife was Darrell Morgan. Byrd said Morgan tried to stab him with the knife during the fight.

“So, the only way I was able to get out of that situation was pretty much just kneeing him in the head until I saw the eyes roll in the back of his head, and I got myself and her out of the situation. Picked her up, threw her over the counter.”

Byrd headed toward his room with the injured victim. That’s when his fellow Marines came out because they heard the commotion.

“I saw one of my buddies and I said, ‘Hey, grab the sheets off the bed so I can control the bleeding,’ and pretty much wrapped a tourniquet around her hand.”

Byrd said the victim made a full recovery. Meanwhile, Darrell Morgan was convicted and sentenced to jail time.

Lance Corporal Byrd is now based in Hawaii. In June of 2021, Byrd received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroic actions. It is the highest non-combat medal for heroism awarded by the Marine Corps.

His family joined him for the medal ceremony.

“As a father, super proud,” said Byrd’s father, Jovonn Britt.

“As a mom, I’m fighting tears back right now. This is my hero right here,” said Byrd’s mother, Roshon Britt.

So, how does Byrd feel about the word “hero”?

“When somebody says, you know, you’re a hero, it feels good hearing it, but at the same time, the other side of me is like, this is my job. This is what I have to do. This is what we do, you know?”

What Byrd is most proud of, in addition to saving a life, is how he has represented those who have given so much to him.

“Bringing something positive to my hometown, and the Marine Corps, is definitely a blessing.”

Byrd says he plans to end his active-duty service with the Marines and come home to Newport News to help his community, especially Veterans, as well as physically heal from his life as a Marine.

“Miss my community. Miss being in Hampton Roads,” said Byrd.