5 Soldiers save lives
April 16, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. (April 16, 2013) -- Gunshots rent the afternoon air at Roy P. Benavidez Park, April 7, resulting in five young men springing to action without a second thought to their own personal safety, saving the lives of two men.
Spc. Ian Carman was picking up his friend, Spc. Anthony Willis, at his apartment to go get haircuts, when they heard gun shots. Pfc. Philip Hawkes had just returned from the flea market with his buddy Pfc. Daniel Hinojoza, and was putting stuff away while Hinojoza was relaxing on his couch, when they heard the shots. Spc. Daniel Garcia, in his apartment at the very bottom of the park, was also on his couch when he heard the weapon fire.
Without fail, all five ran toward the sound, as soon as they realized what it was.
"When I heard gunshots, I started running, it was just instinct," said Garcia, fueler, Company A, 704th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. "I don't know why I took off downstairs and started running toward the park, I just did it."
Willis and Carman, both air traffic controllers, Company F, 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., were just about to leave. Carman was in the car and Willis was just opening the car door to get in when the gunfire started.
"I was setting my cup in the cupholder; I looked up when I heard gunfire, and Willis was gone," said Carman. "I yelled out for him, I didn't know where he had gone, but he popped back (around the corner of the building) and told me; 'Hey, someone is on the ground."
Hinojoza, wheeled vehicle mechanic, and Hawkes, land combat missile system repair specialist, both with Company B, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div., were right on their heels as they realized what was happening.
"I was sitting on my couch, just chilling out, when I heard what I thought was fireworks," said Hinojoza. "All of a sudden, I thought; those aren't fireworks. I jumped up, looked out the window, and sure enough, it was exactly what I thought it was, and I started outside; didn't even close the door."
Hawkes didn't even wait for his buddy once he understood what had happened.
"I was unloading the truck we had taken to the flea market when I heard the gunshots, and when I heard one of the specialists over here say: 'There's a man down,' I took off."
All five Soldiers, reacted without hesitation to save a stranger, none of them considering they danger they were running into. The four closest said they were there within 20 seconds of hearing the gun shots.
"We were running over there, I just turned the emergency beacon on my phone; I didn't even bother calling," said Willis. "I just put it back in my pocket and kept running."
The scene, as they ran up on the injured men, with the worst having 18 gun shot wounds, was stunning.
"When I first got there, and he tried to utter 'help me, help me,' it was not a pretty sight," said Carman. "I was like, where are all the gun shot wounds? The man was riddled, we were just trying to look at him, and see what we needed to do.
"Hopefully someone called it in, but you got to do something in the moment, or this guy's in trouble," said Carman.
The Soldiers quickly started removing belts, as Willis called his wife, and had her throw more belts and towels off their balcony, which overlooked the park, and used those to help care for the men that had been shot. A short while later, they were joined my another Soldier with a CLS bag and litter.
"There was a medic there; he had his field medical badge, I found out later, and a portable litter" Willis said. "He had it laid out and ready, just in case we had to put him on it. We had IV lines ready, just in case. He started throwing stuff at us from his med-pack. We just used what we could, applied a tourniquet, with belts, towels, shirts, whatever we could get."
While the most seriously injured man received the majority of the attention, the Soldiers also took the time to apply a tourniquet to the second man, who had been shot twice in the right arm.
Once tourniquets were applied to all the inured limbs, the Soldiers said they continued to treat the other wounds and stabilize the men until help arrived.
"We were out there for a little longer than five minutes, and it just flew by," said Willis.
The Soldiers all credit the medical training they have received in the Army for knowing how to treat the two men.
"It came second nature," said Hawkes. "With all the training we do, and all the practice we have, it just came natural."
The most severely injured man was taken to the hospital in critical condition, but looks likely to recover. The Soldiers were called by his wife so that she could express her gratitude.
"She called me, thanking us for what we did, you know, for saving his life," Willis said.
While the Soldiers may have witnessed a shooting within a short distance of their homes, it hasn't motivated them to move.
"It's a safe neighborhood to me, because we've got so many people willing to jump out and help if anything happens," Willis said.
The biggest surprise for the Soldiers was the situation in which they found themselves applying their training.
Carman, the most senior of the Soldiers, had spent three years at Fort Bragg ready to deploy and put his training to use, without ever having the opportunity to use his medical training.
"I re-classed and I picked up a job where I didn't think anything of it; I was directing air traffic," Carman said. "You know you always have that chance when you're downrange, always, but I didn't think stateside. I didn't think I would be going to pick up my best friend and the next thing I know, I'm helping a gun-shot victim, clearly bleeding out in front of us."
When the Soldiers later found out that both victims were going to survive, it was good news.
"When I got the call from CSPD saying that they were good, I just felt relieved," said Willis. "I just sat down in my chair and told my wife; 'He made it!"
The Colorado Springs Police Department plans to recognize the Soldiers for their heroic efforts in the near future.