News: Civil Affairs Soldier Earns Department of Defense Soldier's Medal
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Jo Hoots
By Sgt. 1st Class Jo Hoots
U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne)
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The deputy commanding general for the U.S. Army Reserve Command, Maj. Gen. Alan D. Bell, and the commanding general for U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), Maj. Gen. David A. Morris, will be awarding the Department of Defense Soldier's Medal to an Army Reserve Civil Affairs Soldier during a special ceremony on August 22, 2008, at the Special Operations Museum near Fort Bragg.
Staff Sgt. Jacqueline L. Hunt, a Civil Affairs Specialist and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, earned this honor for saving the life of a traffic accident victim near her Texas hometown of Fort Worth.
Hunt was returning from a party with friends shortly after midnight on March 17, 2005, when a body thudded to the ground in front of her vehicle as she negotiated the freeway home. She explained that the victim had pulled to the side of the road, and stepped out of his vehicle, when he was hit by a passing truck and thrown several yards into oncoming freeway traffic.
"I was designated driver ... when he landed in front of me," she said. "I put on the emergency brake, and ran to him. Some semis were coming, so I picked him up and moved him to the shoulder." Hunt explained that, although the victim was almost twice her size - over six feet tall and 220 pounds - she was able to lift him and carry him to the side of the road because she was driven by sheer adrenalin. She then began to assess and treat his injuries.
Drawing on the training she had received with her unit, the 490th Civil Affairs Battalion in Abilene, Texas, Hunt administered first aid to a victim with severe head injuries and who wasn't breathing. She directed her friends to call 9-1-1 and received further assistance from the driver of a semi tractor-trailer who pulled over to help. He parked his truck to protect the scene, and erected road barriers around the site. Hunt said the paramedics dispatched to help told her the victim might have died had she not assisted.
The day after the incident, Hunt reached out the victim's family. She was able to explain to them what had happened, and provide much needed support.
Hunt attributes the training she received as a Civil Affairs Soldier, and the experience gained during her deployment, for providing her with the presence of mind and the knowledge to treat the victim's serious and complex injuries. She has never questioned her duty to stop and provide assistance. In Civil Affairs, she explained, "You must have compassion because your number one priority is the community. You're dealing with people, not numbers. We're always thinking about thatwhat to do next to help."
Morris praised Hunt's commitment to Army values. He said, "Staff Sgt. Hunt has taken to heart her training and combat experience, and has used it in the most positive way to give back to the victim and his family, to her unit, and to her community."
Hunt, who is now a non-commissioned officer in her unit, maintains regular contact with the victim and his family. She uses this experience, she said, to teach the Soldiers she supervises to do what is right. "My number one priority is that my Soldiers have integrity and that I have integrity. I don't want my Soldiers to think about the right thing to do - I just want them to do it."
The Soldier's Medal is the seventh highest medal awarded to U.S. military Soldiers, and is given in recognition of heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. While Hunt is proud to receive the recognition, she explained she doesn't want others to lose sight of the Soldiers currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"I really don't want to be called a hero because I don't want to take away from what our Soldiers are doing downrange," she said. "This is my job. This is every Soldier's job."