It was the cold Black River and a sinking canoe that brought three Fort Drum soldiers together Monday evening.
"I had no hesitation," said Specialist Christopher Grant.

Grant and Private Trenton Brown know each other.

They were fishing off the end of a dock when they heard the cries for help.

"We seen them floating back down and the canoe was upside down. They were just on top of it hollering, 'Help,'" said Brown.

Grant and Brown sprang into action.

They ran back to the truck to grab a 100-foot rope to try to throw to the man and woman.

"They started swimming towards us. That's when the male realized the female was having a harder time swimming and he went back for her," said Grant.

The rope wasn't long enough and the two remained clinging to the canoe.

That's when Private First Class Matthew Phillips rolled up in his truck to check out the fishing spot.

Grant and Brown had never met Phillips in their lives, but right away, all three knew they had to work together.

"He kicked off his flip flops and dove in the water - grabbed the rope on the way in," said Brown.

It wasn't the current that created problems for the former Virginia life guard, it was the cold.

"It was the coldest water I've ever been in in my life. Nothing would've prepared me for how cold that was," said Phillips.

Once Phillips got close to the canoe, the man had gone underwater and was out of sight. 

All he could do was grab the woman and Grant and Brown pulled the two back in.

"She was freezing cold, shivering, turning blue," said Phillips.

EMTs warmed Phillips and the woman, but the man remained out of sight after going underwater.

"I would've loved to save both of them, but the Lord didn't intend for it to turn out that way," said Brown.

It was a bittersweet end to a heroic rescue.

The soldiers thanked their training at Fort Drum and said they didn't think twice before getting in the frigid water.

They said that's what soldiers do - always put the mission first whether in uniform or out.

See our most recent report on the search