News: 11th ACR trooper receives Soldier's Medal
Story by Spc. Zachary Gardner
FORT IRWIN, Calif. - It is a soldier’s responsibility to put the needs of others above their own, even if that means putting their own life in harm’s way. But, just because soldiers are trained to do it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take guts.
Pfc. Jorge Espinoza Martinez, a soldier with B Troop, 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment received the Soldier’s Medal on at Fritz Field here on Sept. 28.
Espinoza Martinez received the medal for his actions during a motorcycle accident that resulted in the saving to two men’s lives near North Hollywood on Dec. 11. The Soldier’s Medal is the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor during a non-combat situation.
“I wasn’t really paying attention because my wife was driving,” said Espinoza Martinez “I heard her gasp and I looked up as two guys on a motorcycle got hit by a semitrailer.”
As the driver of the semitrailer continued to drive away, Espinoza Martinez and his wife watched in horror as the two men landed in the second and third lanes of the interstate.
“They flew off their bike and we were next in line to hit them,” said Espinoza Martinez. “My wife swerved to the right and I just got out and ran into the street.”
After jumping from his car and rushing to respond to the victims of the accident Espinoza Martinez began to check the status of the victims. But, something happened while he was checking first victim, the other one got up and started walking around.
“At this point, I didn’t really know what was going on,” said Espinoza Martinez. “The other guy got up, took off his helmet and just started walking around. He didn’t know what was going on. He even called his mom while he was in the middle of the road.”
The road was dark and the situation was getting more dangerous as time went on. The longer they stayed in the road the more likely they were going to get hit by a car. After a close call with a Honda Civic he called out to his wife to see if there was anything in the car that could help.
“By chance, a friend of mine had given me a flashlight after we got back from the field and I’d just left it in my car,” said Espinoza Martinez. “The only thing that kept us from getting hit was that flashlight.”
After that night, Espinoza Martinez went about his life as if nothing happened. He showed up for work, went to the field and went home, but he never mentioned the incident to anyone.
“I didn’t say anything to my troop about what happened that night when I got back to Fort Irwin,” said Espinoza Martinez. “The only thing I was expecting was that I might get a call about the police report.”
Despite his efforts to keep the incident under wraps, Espinoza Martinez was found out and confronted about it by his company commander after the firefighters who responded to the accident scene recommended him for an award.
Even though Espinoza Martinez may be humble about running onto a freeway and dodging cars to save the lives of two men, it’s nothing to be modest about. His actions were beyond what was expected of him as a soldier and selfless.
“I was just doing something that I would hope someone else would do given the circumstances,” said Espinoza Martinez.