Ceremony honors heroes from hostage crisis at WINN
November 10, 2010
<b>FORT STEWART, Ga.</b> Winn Army Community Hospital held a ceremony to honor those who, two months ago, prevented a hostage situation from escalating into a disastrous tragedy, Nov. 9.
At the ceremony, U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, the representative for Georgia's 1st congressional district; Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips, 3rd Infantry Division deputy commanding general - rear; Col. Paul Cordts, Winn commander; and Col. Kevin Milton, Fort Stewart garrison commander; all praised the actions of the people who took a potentially disastrous event and ensured the assailant caused not a single casualty.
The incident took place Sept. 6, when a recently-discharged Soldier working at Fort Stewart as a civilian enter the hospital armed and took three hostages, demanding behavioral treatment from the thin overnight staff.
Major Sabon Shelton, the night supervisor at WINN, was one of those three hostages. Earlier in his career, Maj. Shelton was a former psychiatric nurse who had completed training in deescalating situations like the one he found himself in.
"I've had a lot of training with [Soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder]," he said. "I have dealt with many Soldiers like [the one that night], I just hadn't dealt with one with a gun."
Brigadier General Phillips pointed to a single feature in the people who made sure that no one was harmed in the process.
"It was the professionalism of everyone involved," he said. "That professionalism included valor, courage, skill, and most importantly, the internalization of the warrior ethos."
That professionalism was apparent even to the acting command sergeant major of the hospital, Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Wrighton.
"The men and women within this facility are committed to providing quality patient care at all risks," he said. "No one can ask for more than that, and I'm damn proud to be on their team."
Congressman Kingston visited to make sure the awardees understood the valor they displayed that night. He said that as a civilian, it is easy to suggest that training and preparation are easy ways to explain the actions of the men and women involved in the incident. He, however, said it was more than just preparation.
"They put their own lives at risk, and that made all the difference," he said. "Knowing what to do is training. Doing it is bravery."