News: 20th CES firefighters awarded DOD level honor
Story by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Bass
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Two firefighters from the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron received a Department of Defense level award for heroism based on their actions that took place, April 9, 2013.
Tech. Sgt. Joseph Charleston, 20th CES station captain, and Senior Airman Boyd Korb, 20th CES firefighter, were directly responsible for the lifesaving rescue of a downed civilian firefighter in Sumter, South Carolina.
The two won both Air Combat Command and Air Force level awards before going up to the DOD level.
"We were tasked to perform ventilation inside the structure," said Charleston, a Philadelphia native. "We went inside to check for fire extension and when we went to the second floor there was heavy smoke."
Fire extension is when a fire gets into the walls and spreads to another room.
Korb is from Kingston, Okla.
"Myself and Senior Airman Korb ran into some county firefighters who were in the building," said Charleston. "They asked us if we knew where one of their men was at, and we didn't hear anything, I told everybody to be quiet and we heard the [missing] firefighter's PASS device going off."
A PASS device is a personal alert safety system worn by firefighters which makes a loud audible noise if the firefighter is in distress.
After hearing the missing firefighter's pass device, Charleston and Korb traced the sound to an elevator shaft, he said.
At the bottom of this shaft was the downed firefighter, alive and conscious, but unable to move.
Charleston and Korb received permission to go get the firefighter and went into the building via the first floor and rescued the firefighter.
"Our firefighters spend a lot of time training, but training only goes so far," said Lt. Col. Terry Walter, 20th CES commander.
Training for worst-case scenarios can be the best tool to prepare young Airmen for the challenges of being a firefighter here, said Terry.
"We're proud to be one of the best fire departments in the DOD," said Charleston. "We show it day in and day out."