715th MI Bn Soldier awarded Soldier's Medal
November 19, 2009
- Soldier disregarded his own injuries to save life of fellow Solider pinned in vehicle
- Najac and the Soldier he rescued are now husband and wife.
Kunia, Hawaii- The heroism Private Samuel Najac displayed during a catastrophic accident on December 20, 2008 earned him the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal, which was awarded to him in a ceremony November 17, 2009 at Kunia Training Area (KTA) by the Command Sergeant Major of the Military Intelligence Corps, Command Sergeant Major Geradus F. Wykoff.
Aca,!A"Go with a battle buddy.Aca,!A? Soldiers hear this repeatedly during training, safety briefings at the end of the week or before long holiday periods. For good reason- having a battle buddy means someone is looking out for you, and you them. ThatAca,!a,,cs just what Private Yanixa Hayes did when she released from Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in San Angelo, Texas for the Christmas break in late December 2008; she drove with fellow Soldier, Private Samuel Najac to Florida; both having family in the Sunshine state, they decided to split the cost of the trip. Little did Hayes know that having Najac along was going to save her life.
Growing weary from driving for a long stretch on Interstate 10, Najac had just traded seats with Private Hayes and was looking forward to resting a bit, when a horrific accident occurred involving their vehicle. A young lady lost control of her vehicle in the west bound lanes and crossed over a 50 foot wide median in the middle of the highway at 80 MPH and struck the vehicle Hayes and Najac were traveling in head on. Najac was told later by one of the state troopers who responded to the scene that accident was equivalent to a 150 MPH impact.
After initially extracting himself from the burning vehicle and losing consciousness, Najac recovered only to find his fellow Soldier, Hayes, trapped beneath the steering column. Ignoring his own injuries, severe disorientation, and the rising flames, he forced the driverAca,!a,,cs side door open and broke open the dashboard with his bare hands in an attempt to free her. When the dashboard finally yielded, he pulled her from the vehicle and carried her to a safe distance from the flaming wreckage before losing consciousness once more. His selfless actions on that day with complete disregard for his own personal safety undoubtedly saved the life of his fellow Soldier.
At the time of the accident, Najac and Hayes were fellow Soldiers and battle buddies; however after the extraordinary event that occurred, Najac made Hayes his wife.
The former Private Hayes, now (Mrs.) Private First Class Najac beamed with pride and thankfulness to her husband, smiling through tears during the ceremony. PFC Najac(s) are both Signals Intelligence (SIGNIT) Soldiers with the715th Military Intelligence Battalion, Schofield Barracks.
The dramatic story of Najac rescuing Hayes who was trapped in a vehicle is remarkable given NajacAca,!a,,cs own serious injuries sustained in the crash.
Aca,!A"This brave Soldier only realized only 2 days later when a sneeze brought him to his knees, thatAca,!a,,cs heAca,!a,,cd suffered broken ribs in addition to the concussion during the crash, Aca,!A"said Command Sergeant Major Dan McCraw, of the 344th Military Intelligence Battalion, Goodfellow Air Force Base, who spoke during the award presentation.
McCraw is Command Sergeant Major at the 344th, an AIT unit which both (then) Hayes and Najac were assigned when the crash occurred, and he traveled to Hawaii for this event. Presenting the award was Command Sergeant Major Wykoff.
Aca,!A"PFC NajacAca,!a,,cs heroic story is now a regular part of our in-processing of Soldiers at the 344th MI Bn, Aca,!A"said McCraw. Aca,!A"Telling the Soldiers about his actions help them to understand what we expect from them when it comes to looking out for one another.Aca,!A?