Fort Sill Soldiers Aid Stranded Motorists During Ice Storm
February 23, 2007
FORT SILL, Okla. (Army News Service, Feb. 23, 2007) - "I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values." When most Soldiers recite those words from the Soldier's Creed, they likely imagine fulfilling this promise on the battlefield.
Three Soldiers from Battery B, 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery Regiment, recently found that opportunities to serve can be found anywhere, in any weather. Theirs came during Oklahoma's mid-January ice storms.
Sgt. Chris Scalf, Multi-Launch Rocket System launcher chief, and Specialists Scott Wood, MLRS launcher driver, and Jason Dougherty, MLRS ammunition specialist, had traveled to Oklahoma City before the storm hit. When they left their hotel Jan. 13 to pick up Wood's fiance, Sharon Lampe, from work, they quickly learned how severe the storm had become.
"Driving to get Sharon, we could see how bad the roads were and you could see how hard it was for people to drive," Scalf said.
The trio picked up Lampe and were driving back to her home when they saw a vehicle stuck on an overpass. Joy Carpenter, a nurse who was on her way home from work, had started to drive up the overpass but couldn't get enough traction to reach the top. By the time the Soldiers arrived, she had been stuck for approximately 30 minutes.
"I was literally sitting and spinning," said Carpenter. "I realized my truck was stuck ... where oncoming traffic had to go around me to avoid an accident.
"Panic and anxiety began to set in, and I began to pray to get home safe to my children. Just then the Soldiers appeared almost of out nowhere to offer me assistance."
Scalf drove his four-wheel-drive 2003 Dodge Ram truck up to Carpenter, and the Soldiers offered to help. First, Dougherty tried driving her vehicle down the overpass but couldn't. So the Soldiers took a tow chain from their vehicle, attached it to Carpenter's truck and said they would pull her the five miles to her home.
"They all remained very calm and positive, and assured me of my safety and promised to get me home," Carpenter said. "That is exactly what they did, right to my doorstep."
The trip was not an easy one. With no place to hook the tow chain on the front of Carpenter's truck, Scalf pulled her vehicle backwards, with Dougherty inside steering and manning the brakes when necessary.
"It was strange going backwards and watching traffic coming straight at me, but I was glad we could help her get home," Dougherty said.
Once they were moving, Scalf realized it would be difficult to stop both vehicles so he turned Wood into a road guard of sorts - having him hop out of the lead vehicle at each intersection and stop oncoming traffic until they could pass. "He probably ran three of those miles," said Scalf.
By the time they got Carpenter home, the five-mile trip had taken nearly an hour.
Carpenter was not the only person the Bravo Soldiers helped that day. They aided four other drivers - one while still towing Carpenter - and estimated they were on the road for nearly five hours.
All were grateful, often offering payment for the Soldiers' efforts (which they refused), but none more grateful than the nurse. She called Fort Sill and tracked down the three men's unit, then contacted 3rd Bn., 13th FAR Commander, Lt. Col. John A. Kelly, to pass along the story and her thanks.
"Even though the Soldiers probably thought it was just another day, they were angels in disguise to me," she said in explaining her desire to see them recognized. "What an experience to be praying (for help) and have the U.S. Army show up."
When word of their efforts reached their unit, 1st Sgt. Dan Tribble was not surprised. "(Carpenter's story) was just what I would expect from these Soldiers, or from any of our Soldiers," he said. "They're a snapshot of what this battery is like."
For their efforts the three Soldiers received Impact Army Achievement Awards during a Feb. 22 awards ceremony.
Wood, who would have remembered that weekend anyway - he proposed to Lampe that Friday - said having the chance to help so many people made it all the more memorable.
"How many times in life do you get to help someone like that'" he asked. "It was nice to know we could make a difference for someone and help them when they needed it."
(Sgt. 1st Class Mark Porter writes for the 75th Fires Brigade Public Affairs Office.)