Drill sergeant saves Soldier's life
Staff Sgt. Tomekia Branch, a drill sergeant with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, is shown at graduation rehearsal Wednesday. Branch was recently awarded the Army Commendation Medal for saving the life of a Soldier in Basic Combat Training.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A drill sergeant was recently recognized after using the skills she learned in a Combat Lifesaver Course to save the life of a Soldier who stopped breathing during a training exercise.

Staff Sgt. Tomekia Branch, a drill sergeant with Company A, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for her actions.
Branch said the incident, which happened in September, reinforces the importance of training, such as the Combat Lifesaver Course.

"It caught me by surprise but I knew what to do," she said. "I didn't even think about it. I just reacted."

Branch was awarded the medal Oct. 8.

Branch said she was only doing what she was trained to do.

"This is our job," she said. "I just did what I had to do."

The incident happened during an exercise in which Soldiers were learning how to do the low and high crawls and react to indirect fire, among other tasks.

One of the Soldiers began hyperventilating and collapsed. Branch, who was in her first cycle as a drill sergeant, rushed to the Soldier and found she was not breathing and had no pulse. Branch began performing CPR on the Soldier.

"I was never out in a situation where I had to do it for real," Branch said.

The Soldier regained consciousness after a few minutes, just as medics arrived on the scene. The Soldier was later discovered to have asthma and was released from military service.

Branch said the incident served as a lesson to other Soldiers going through Basic Combat Training.

"They were thanking me for saving their battle buddy but I told them they could have done the same thing, they had the same training ...," she said.

Lt. Col. Bryan Hernandez, commander of the 3-34th, said Branch personifies the high standards expected of NCOs.

"Drill Sergeant Branch's actions are absolutely indicative of the professionalism of the noncommissioned officers' corps," Hernandez said. "Her quick actions saved that

Soldier's life and we're very proud of her."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16