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    It’s About Helping People, Not Awards

    It’s About Helping People, Not Awards

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Patrick Boyle | U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Travis Spong, 35th Force Support Squadron registered mail...... read more read more



    Story by Airman 1st Class Patrick Boyle 

    35th Fighter Wing

    MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The morning of April 30, 2023, appeared routine for Senior Airman Travis Spong, a registered mail clerk assigned to mail control activity at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The sun shined as he made his way to drop off and pick up the mail for the base, as he did numerous times before. This morning was different.

    Spong was driving along his route when a car on the other side of the highway hit a rail guard and flipped over, sending the vehicle into the air and launching its single occupant, a male Qatari, through the windshield at high speed. As soon as the driver made impact, the severity of his injuries became evident. As the victim lay strewn across a mess of glass shards and broken bits of metal, he started losing blood at a rapid rate. His right leg was severed below the knee, and he suffered multiple lacerations across his arms and midsection. Having witnessed this right before his eyes and knowing a quick response could mean the difference between life and death, Spong leapt outside his vehicle and rushed toward the injured man.

    “I was shocked, it was one of the last things I ever expected to happen,” said Senior Airman Travis Spong, 35th Force Support Squadron (FSS) registered mail clerk. “Especially since it happened only 15 or 20 feet away, but that shows that anything can happen.”

    Spong raced toward the scene of the crash, crossing two lanes of traffic and navigating the debris on the road. His first instinct was to stop the victim’s bleeding, keeping a cool head amidst the

    chaos around him, and without an ounce of hesitation used his belt as a tourniquet while a coworker called Qatari emergency services.

    While not a medical professional, Spong possessed the knowledge to make a difference. He attended a pre-deployment Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) course conducted by the 35th FSS, which provided the information essential to responding to situations such as the one he found himself in.

    “The first thing that came to my mind was to stop the bleeding, I saw that his leg was losing a lot of blood,” said Spong. “I remembered to go to the highest point of the extremity and cut off circulation, and after that I was just running through the TCCC training.”

    Spong then stabilized the victim’s neck and paid close attention to his injuries, lifting his leg off the scorching asphalt to prevent further burning. After treating the injured man as best as he could, Spong reassured and spoke to him until emergency services arrived, keeping him awake and ensuring his condition remained stable.

    Spong witnessed an event similar to the one he found himself in outside of Al Udeid Air Base when he was younger. He and his mother were on a car ride when they witnessed an automobile accident, and as Spong would do years later, his mother rushed to the aid of the driver before an ambulance arrived.

    “I responded so quickly because my mom is a nurse. She’s always had a love for people and has always expressed that towards me,” said Spong. “If someone is in need and you’re there, you better be the first one to help them and don’t be a bystander.”

    Spong’s lifesaving actions earned him the 2024 United Service Organization Service Member of the Year Award and the Air and Space Force Commendation Medal. While many strive for awards for their own sake, Spong doesn’t believe they should be the ultimate goal of helping someone. Spong didn’t risk his own safety and run across a busy highway to help a stranger because he thought it would get him another ribbon on his chest, he did it because there was someone who needed help and he was there.

    “I feel honored to have won the awards, but I feel like saving a life was more important than recognition,” Spong said. “I’m not looking for awards, you help out of the kindness of your heart.”



    Date Taken: 04.12.2024
    Date Posted: 05.06.2024 19:41
    Story ID: 470492

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