9 Special Tactics Airmen commended for reaction to Hwy 98 car accident

  • Published
  • By Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department
Nine Airmen received Community Service Awards May 20 from the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department.

The commendations were for their selfless reaction of rendering aid following a multi-car accident on a major thoroughfare in west Okaloosa County.

A significant crash March 3, 2015, blocked all lanes of Hwy 98 near Hurlburt Field. A crash in this vicinity is almost always chaotic and difficult to reach in a timely manner, due to the ensuing traffic snarl. This one even more so, with multiple vehicles involved -- one overturned with entrapment and various injuries reported. County Sheriff Sgt. James Duval was fortunately in the immediate area, so he arrived on scene moments after occurrence.

One deputy on a significant highway crash is certainly overwhelmed with things to do. Much to Duval's relief, he observed several uniformed members of the U.S Air Force already on scene and rendering assistance, helping bring some order to an inherently unsafe situation. Duval, being a retired Air Force chief master sergeant, recognized the uniforms of those members assisting and realized they were well-trained and experienced in dealing with such situations.

He observed the Special Tactics Airmen triaging and stabilizing patients, as well as clearing debris for the impending arrival of additional emergency support people and vehicles. The Airmen rendering aid reported the conditions they found to Duval, allowing him to make the proper notifications and prioritize his own actions.

After the event concluded, these quiet professionals simply slipped back into the background, carrying on with their lives as if intervening in a crisis situation was simply a matter of routine.

Duval felt differently. He said: "Their professionalism and work ethic was highly evident. I was very proud and relieved to have them on scene, and I know they provided a great comfort and service to the injured parties."

Due to his responsibilities and the chaotic nature of the scene, Duval was unable to learn the names and assignments of these selfless servants until much later. Once he found out who they were, he thought it important to recognize and thank them.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Department recognized these quiet professionals for not only their willingness to assist when the need arose, but the professional manner in which they rendered that assistance.

Community Service Award were presented to:

- Air Liaison Officer, 720th Operations Support Squadron
- Special Tactics Officer, 24th Special Operations Wing
- Special Tactics Officer, 720th Operations Support Squadron
- Tactical Air Control Party Airman, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron
- Two Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, 720th Operations Support Squadron
- Combat Controller, 21st Special Tactics Squadron
- Pararescueman, 123rd Special Tactics Squadron
- Special Operations Surgical Team member, 720th Operations Support Squadron

During the ceremony, an awardee's spouse stood up to thank the Special Tactics Airmen.

"For the spouses, we are so proud of you," the spouse said "You are a direct representation of the outstanding leadership and training in the special operations community. You exemplify the American spirit."

24 SOW EDITOR'S NOTE: The 24th Special Operations Wing and the entire Special Tactics community is grateful to the Sheriff's department for taking care of its community through dedicated service and support, and for honoring the Special Tactics Airmen with this award.