Soldier springs into action to save a life
August 14, 2014
One Soldier took matters into his own soon-to-be bloody hands when he noticed a traffic accident on a South Korean expressway July 12.
Staff Sgt. James P. Beck, 411th Contracting Support Brigade's 630th Contingency Contracting Team noncommissioned officer-in-charge at the Regional Contracting Office-Pyeongtaek, South Korea, was on his way home from a mission when he came upon an overturned vehicle on the roadway. Beck said he noticed several vehicles slowing down and looking but none stopped to help.
As he got closer to the vehicle he noticed it was on fire and there was someone inside trying to get out. Without any regard for his own safety, Beck moved in to help.
"As I came upon the vehicle, I was thinking that it looked like a really bad accident and wondering how it happened," said Beck, a native of Fort Bragg, California. "There were no other cars in the immediate area and nobody near the vehicle. Then as I crept by I saw feet in my rear view mirror and knew that I had to help whoever was in the car get out."
Pulling up closer, Beck said he saw the car was on fire with a lot of smoke coming from the undercarriage and various fluids everywhere.
"The fire was slowly getting bigger," he said. "I knew that there wasn't a lot of time before the fire became out of control."
Beck said he saw the trapped man, an older Korean, attempting to break the windshield with not much success.
"While I was trying to kick the window in and trying to pull it open with hands, all I could think about was getting the individual out of the car before the fire grew too large," said the nine-year veteran. "It wasn't until after I got him out of the car and helped him away from the accident that I realized that I had sustained minor cuts and saw blood."
When the paramedics arrived, Beck said they helped the victim and offered to look at Beck's wounds. After providing information to the police when they arrived, Beck left the scene to get some medical attention for his wounds at the military hospital in Osan emergency room, a 90-minute drive.
"Most of the bleeding had stopped by the time I left the scene because I waited about 20 minutes for the police to arrive and I had wrapped my hands in a t-shirt," he said.
At the ER, Beck said the staff cleaned his cuts and removed several small pieces of glass from one of his fingers and released him.
"SSG Beck's actions come as no surprise," said Col. Johnny Broughton, commander, 413th CSB. "He believes in helping those in need and his heroic actions more than prove that."
After the incident, Beck told his family and friends about his morning.
"My wife asked me if I was OK and pretty much forced me to go to the hospital. My friends, family and co-workers said that I did the right thing and did a good job.
"Whether Soldier or civilian, I feel we all have an obligation to help our fellow man or woman in times of distress. I think that is why I didn't even think twice about doing what I did," said the 29-year-old hero. "For me, there is not even a choice of whether or not to help."