News: Some Super Heroes wear capes, others wear ACUs
Story by Sgt. Richard Wrigley
FORT STEWART, Ga. - “When the will defies fear, when duty throws the gauntlet down to fate, when honor scorns to compromise with death – that is heroism,’ said Robert Green Ingersoll in a speech he gave in 1882, according to the Robert Green Ingersoll organization online.
If the above can indeed satisfy the definition of a hero, then the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment “Battle Boars,” 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, has a few more soldiers who qualify to be called “Heroes.”
Staff Sgt. James Fingerlos, Spc. Michael Strange, Spc. Matthew Carpenter and Spc. Brian Stapleton, all medics for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-30th IN BN, all risked their lives in order to save others in a multiple-vehicle accident on GA Hwy 144 eastbound here, Sept. 18.
The soldiers were the first medical personnel to arrive on the scene of the accident, as they were forced to stop when they were on their way back from a small-arms range in the early afternoon.
The accident was a severe one, which involved three cars and one dump truck filled with hot asphalt. One vehicle, a sedan, was rear-ended by a pickup truck causing the vehicle to jump into oncoming traffic. The dump truck then hit the sedan head on pinning the driver in the sedan and breaking the axle of the truck. This caused the dump truck to flip, hit a telephone pole and land in a ditch, spewing hot asphalt, gasoline and loose power lines onto the scene, Lt. Col. Daniel Teeter, commander, 1-30th IN BN, explained.
Needless to say, the scene of the accident was chaotic and fraught with danger.
“The sedan [in the accident] looked mostly crushed, and a soldier was pulling a baby out of the back through the window. The woman in the sedan was conscious when Staff Sgt. Fingerlos and I ran in. Staff Sgt. Fingerlos took over that scene and I turned around to see a dump truck on its side,” explained Stapleton.
Despite the carnage, Stapleton did not blink an eye.
“I ran over, jumping over power lines and through gasoline that was spilling from the truck. Spc Strange was already on top of the truck working on extracting the casualty, who was conscious. I ran around through the hot asphalt, to make sure there was no fire. Then I ran back and hopped up on the truck in order to help lower the casualty and extract him from the truck,” Stapleton added.
Sgt. 1st Class William True was the senior enlisted leader on the ground, and quickly took charge of the scene, directing his soldiers in order to make sure everything that needed to be done was done as safely as possible. He also had eyes on the whole scene, and related the speed and efficiency with which his medics operated.
“I quickly saw that there were downed power lines and called out for everyone to be careful. Staff Sgt. Fingerlos was assessing the female driver of the car so I proceeded to the dump truck carefully stepping over the downed wires. I shouted out to Spc. Strange, who was already on the dump truck, to see what he had as far as patients. He yelled back that he had one male patient that was conscious and alert. I yelled to him that fuel was leaking out of the truck, and he told me he knew and was going to rapidly extricate the patient,” True said.
All in all, despite the imminent danger that the fuel billowing out of the truck posed in combination with the live downed power lines on the ground, these Battle Boar medics still charged in in order to preserve the life of others.
Four people were injured, two of which were flown by Lifestar to a hospital in the area, according to a Fort Stewart representative; a situation which could have been even worse had it not been for the heroic actions of the soldiers involved.
The soldiers are all being recommended for the Army Commendation Medal for their actions and bravery, explained Teeter.
“I am extremely proud of these soldiers,” said Teeter. “They rushed into the scene, risking life and limb for those they did not know and without thinking of themselves - I couldn’t be prouder.”