NCOs awarded for life-saving action
Lt. Col. Bryan Hernandez, right, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, praises Sgt. 1st Class Kimberly Burns, middle, and Staff Sgt. Phillip White for their quick actions in aiding a Basic Combat Training Soldier who stopped breathing during a classroom exercise.

FORT JACKSON, SC -- Two Fort Jackson drill sergeants are being credited for saving the life of a Soldier in training.
Pvt. Joseph Herman, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was sitting in a classroom June 22 when he suffered a seizure that caused him to quit breathing. Sgt. 1st Class Kimberlyn Burns and Staff Sgt. Phillip White noticed something was wrong and jumped into action.

"His body hunched over, he had no motor skills and his eyes rolled to the back of his head," White said. "As soon as we saw that, we knew he was going into shock and that it was serious."

The two drill sergeants jumped up, got Herman out of his chair and laid him on the floor. While Burns held the Soldier's head, White pried his jaw open and noticed that his tongue had folded back, preventing him from breathing.

"I stuck my index finger in his mouth and pried his tongue out," White said. "Then he started breathing again."
"It seemed like he had quit breathing for a couple of minutes," Burns said.

Once he began breathing again, Herman - still in shock - was having difficulty staying awake. Both drill sergeants kept the Soldier awake by talking to him until emergency personnel arrived.

"Both drill sergeants Burns and White displayed the key characteristics we, as an Army, look for in our NCOs - quick thinking, outstanding professionalism and care for the well-being of Soldiers," said Lt. Col. Bryan Hernandez, commander 3rd Bn., 34th Inf. Reg. "These two fine NCOs saw something that did not look right and their speedy actions resulted in possibly saving that young Soldier's life."

Herman has since recovered from the incident.

Burns and White were presented the Army Commendation Medal for their actions during a ceremony July 6.

"We take the responsibility of transforming these young men and women into Soldiers, especially in a time of war, very seriously," Hernandez said. "Mothers and fathers across this nation send us their most-prized possession, their children. They place their full trust and confidence in our officers and NCOs to train them hard, teach them well and take care of them. The actions by these two great drill sergeants is evidence of that sacred bond."

Both drill sergeants credit their training for the quick aid they were able to give Herman.

"We are constantly training in combat lifesaving skills. We do it throughout the year," White said. "When you do something so much it becomes habit. I didn't think twice about what I did."

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