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Shaw Airman coined for good Samaritan act

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darius Willingham, 20th Comptroller Squadron commander’s support staff, reviews physical fitness (PT) standards during work at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 30, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darius Willingham, 20th Comptroller Squadron commander’s support staff, reviews physical fitness (PT) standards during work at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 30, 2019. After receiving a coin from Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, for assisting passengers involved in a car accident, he volunteered to take on the additional duty as a physical training leader to help his unit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

U.S. Air Force Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, left, applauds Staff Sgt. Darius Willingham, 20th Comptroller Squadron commander’s support staff at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 30, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, left, applauds Staff Sgt. Darius Willingham, 20th Comptroller Squadron commander’s support staff at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, Oct. 30, 2019. Willingham was coined by O’Malley for giving first aid to two strangers after a car accident on a rainy day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --

On a cold rainy October afternoon, the sound of cars driving by on a busy road is interrupted with screeching tires and terrified screams, followed by an eerie silence. All this occurs within seconds.

“I saw a person in need and I was able to assist,” said Staff Sgt. Darius Willingham, 20th Comptroller Squadron commander’s support staff member. “I just reacted and it felt right. Nobody else was helping so I stepped up.”

Willingham was driving back from taking his dog to the veterinary clinic through the bleak weather when he saw a car suddenly pull out in front of another, causing a collision.

Pulling over, he notices a woman trapped in her vehicle. After pulling her out from the wreck, he proceeds to call the Sumter police, keep her calm and bandages her wounds until the emergency medical team arrived. In a matter of 15-20 minutes, an act of selfless service helps two strangers.

For his heroism, stepping up, and exemplary Airmanship Col. Derek O’Malley, 20th Fighter Wing commander, coined Willingham, Oct. 30, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Willingham said he was happy to help. It made him feel an immense sense of pride being able to make a difference in another person’s life.

“It is important to serve the community while we are here, because there are so many people in Sumter that support the base, mission and its members. So it is a good thing to show the community that we are here to support and defend them in any way possible,” said Willingham.


Tina Pastore, 20th CPTS CSS member, said Willingham is a volunteer soccer coach for little kids, and he is always willing to step in and assist anyone, inside and outside of work.

Pastore said he is very humble. No one knew of the accident until she received an email from a bystander who wanted to recognize him for helping on that cold rainy day.

“He volunteered to drive a hay ride for the kids last weekend and ended up driving it in the rain,” said Pastore. “It doesn’t surprise me he was the one who stopped and helped. That’s just who he is.”

In his day to day life, Willingham is known for his willingness to serve others which is why no one was surprised when they heard he courageously responded to the car collision.