A survivor's pitch
September 6, 2011
HOOVER, Ala. -- Standing on the pitcher's mound, nervously looking at the crowd, a Soldier from the 314th Public Affairs Operation Center in Birmingham, Ala., gathers herself as she prepares to throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to a baseball game between the Birmingham Barons and the Montgomery Biscuits at Regions Field.
The 314th PAOC selected Pfc. Allyson E. Putman to do the honors because she was the most junior member of the unit.
During their interactions with the Soldier, unit leaders learned that Putman was a victim of the tornados that had ripped through Alabama on April 27, 2011.
"We did not have power for 13 days. I just got my [battle assembly] check the day the tornados hit and I was the only one that had access to money," Putman said. "My whole check went to buying supplies for two families."
Putman is also a volunteer at the Union Grove Ala., Fire Department. She assisted in running the shelter and helped provide three meals a day to tornado survivors.
After the first storm came through, she went to check on her family only to find that her home town of Guntersville Ala. was devastated. Her mom told her that according to a radio announcement, a second set of storms was going to hit sooner than authorities had predicted.
Putman decided to drive back to the Fire Department. While in route, a tornado appeared in a field to her immediate left.
"I drove as fast as I could to the shelter," Putman said. "Once I got there, I told my chief about what had happened, and no sooner had I finished, an even bigger tornado was forming right across the street. We hurried to get everyone in the shelter, and that is where we remained until almost 11 that night when it was all finally over."
Considering all she had been through, the task of representing her unit in front of spectators presents a different challenge to the light wheeled vehicle mechanic. She stares down at home plate, reels back and hurls the baseball toward the catcher. The crowd cheers as the catcher's glove engulfs the baseball. Putman breathes a sigh of relief and jogs off the mound waving to the crowd.
"I'm lucky to be alive," Putman said. "I'm fortunate that my family and friends are safe."