Dedicated to service: Airmen serve beyond expectations

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christina M. Styer
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
"It looked like something you would see in a movie," said Airman 1st Class Orion Rosado, 633rd Communications Squadron cyber systems operations technician.

Rosado and Senior Airman Curtis, 497th Operations Support Squadron analyst, watched in disbelief as two vehicles collided on the opposite side of the highway, metal crumpling like tissue paper as the force of the impact pushed both cars to a ditch in the median.

Before they could fully process the shock of what they had just witnessed, Curtis yelled "Pull over!"

"We had to stop," said Curtis. "If we heard on the news that someone had died, knowing we could have been there to respond would have made me feel terrible."

Rosado explained the moment as one of pure adrenaline mixed with an intense impulse to serve.

"Something jumped out of us and made us feel we had to get over there and help," Rosado explained.

Instinct and teamwork took over as Rosado ran to one car and Banks to the other.

Clouds of smoke billowed from the vehicle Rosado ran to. As he opened the door, the smoke cleared, revealing an elderly woman in the driver's seat.

"I wasn't expecting it to be someone older," said Rosado "When I saw her, I knew I had to be delicate. I didn't want to hurt her any more than she already was."

Stunned and in shock, the woman was suffering a broken hand and chest pain from the impact of the airbag so Rosado stayed with her, asking her questions to keep her calm and engaged until help arrived.

At the other car, Curtis quickly realized both the driver and passenger could be seriously injured.

"The female driver had bruises on her neck and said she couldn't feel the left side of her face," said Curtis. "Her boyfriend's knees were bleeding and he said he couldn't feel them."

When help arrived minutes later, an emergency medical technician asked Curtis to treat the driver for shock and help stabilize her neck so she could be placed on the stretcher.

"When he said to treat her for shock, I already knew what to do. He didn't have to teach me on the spot," Curtis explained.

Curtis credits his ability to assist the emergency responders to the Self-Aid and Buddy Care training he received in the Air Force.

"It's about readiness," said Rosado. "The Air Force requires us to be physically fit and trained in things like SABC and [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] classes for the moments you need to be ready."

Once the last victim was transported into the ambulance, the Airmen knew they had done all they could do for the accident victims. Their service did not stop there, however.

They reminded themselves that "Service Before Self" means they had to carry on and perform the original task they set out to perform that day - presenting military funeral honors to someone who had served before them.

"Our honor guard training requires us to hold the utmost professionalism," Rosado explained. "The security of knowing they were going to be fine and being taught to have the professionalism to get right back to work is what gave me the go-ahead to execute the honors. We did what we had to do."

An hour later and with only 15 minutes to prepare, the honor guardsmen arrived at the funeral location.

"We still made it to the funeral on time and it was a perfect detail," said Curtis.

Exhausted and mentally drained by the end of the detail, Rosado said he spent time reflecting on the day's events and what his role as an Airman really means to him.

"I was surprised with myself," he shared. "I was really proud of how well Curtis and I were able to handle the situation and still perform our primary duties."

As the Airmen transition back to their squadrons and Curtis prepares to join the Air Force Honor Guard, both will take with them lessons learned from this experience.

"We should always have a kind heart," said Curtis. "We are all people. Just because you don't know someone doesn't mean you can't help them."

Rosado agreed.

"It is important to be ready to serve in any moment," he said. "It could be your friend or your neighbor, and they may need you. You would hope someone would do the same for someone you love."

They learned lessons about the importance of service, training and readiness that many do not learn until later in their careers.

(Editor's note: Some last names withheld due to security reasons.)