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    Recruiter turned hero: Sergeant pulls woman from burning car

    RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, TX, UNITED STATES

    04.01.2011

    Story by Staff Sgt. Hillary Stonemetz 

    HQ Air Force Recruiting Service

    RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- It was a typical Saturday night for one Air Force recruiter working a late-night marketing event. For a 43-year-old woman from Catasauqua, Pa., the recruiter's drive home turned out to be her lifeline.

    Staff Sgt. Joseph Maltese, an Air Force recruiter in Scranton, Pa., was returning home from the 2011 District Golden Gloves boxing tournament, March 19, when he drove onto the scene of a car accident. The woman had lost control of her vehicle about 11:30 p.m. and crashed into a tree, rendering her unconscious in a car with the front end engulfed in flames.

    While driving, Maltese, a three-year recruiting veteran, saw a man signaling for help alongside westbound Route 940. He immediately stopped to help. Michael Bubak, one of the first on the scene, and Maltese approached the burning vehicle, opened the driver's side door, cut the woman's seatbelt with a knife and pulled her out safely.

    Maltese said he was so "concerned with getting her out of the car before the fire moved into the cab of the car," that he didn't really think about what was going on.

    "Afterwards, I was like 'Wow, did this really just happen?'" he said.

    The woman's injuries were critical. By the time they moved her out of the car she had regained consciousness. Maltese said his Self-Aid Buddy Care training instinctively kicked in when rendering aid.

    "We used the two-man carry," he described. "I also checked her vitals and stabilized her head and neck with my hands, and continued to talk to her and keep her conscious until the EMS unit arrived."

    The recruiter added that he knew you're not supposed to move somebody who's been in an accident, but in this case, they didn't have a choice. As a result of Bubak's and Maltese's actions, the woman's life was saved.

    "In my almost 13 years in the Air Force, I never thought I would have to actually put the training that we get every year to use," said Maltese, who is assigned to the 314th Recruiting Squadron. Master Sgt. Juan Villarreal, Maltese's flight chief, said he was not surprised by what his recruiter had done.

    "Staff Sgt. Maltese is that kind of person," he said. "I was very proud of him when he called and told me. I believe he is a hero because anyone who sacrifices their personal welfare without hesitation for the safety of others is a hero."

    Maltese has a history of strong performance within Air Force Recruiting Service. He is currently the number one recruiter in the squadron production competition - exceeding his current recruiting goals by 158 percent.

    Lt. Col. Kevin O'Meara, 314 Recruiting Squadron commander, says he's "been a rock solid recruiter for the 314th."

    "Every day recruiters across the country work hard to help the best and brightest young people change their lives for the better," said Col. Cynthia Brown, 360th Recruiting Group commander. "I'm not surprised that Maltese put his life in jeopardy to save another person. His training and deployment experience kicked in and he reacted."

    "He is truly a hero and many people have Maltese to thank for the positive direction their lives have taken," she added.

    As for Maltese, he said this life-altering experience has made him a better person and helps him appreciate the little things life has to offer.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 04.01.2011
    Date Posted: 04.13.2011 13:04
    Story ID: 68684
    Location: RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, TX, US 

    Web Views: 35
    Downloads: 0

    PUBLIC DOMAIN