Drill sergeant saves private's life
December 15, 2011
FORT BENNING, Ga. -- Staff Sgt. Darius Andrus said he doesn't consider himself a hero. Others on Sand Hill, including the Soldier he saved in the barracks who had slipped into unconsciousness and stopped breathing last month, would disagree.
On Nov. 11, Pvt. Adam Chambers got up around 11:30 p.m. in the bay of 1st Platoon, D Company, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, to go to the latrine. The 19-year-old from Springfield, Mo., wound up in an ambulance and awoke an hour or two later in Martin Army Community Hospital.
"He performed CPR and brought me back," Chambers said of Andrus, a senior drill sergeant with 2nd Platoon, who was in charge of quarters that night. "He saved my life. If it wasn't for him, I probably wouldn't be here. … I kind of feel bad, because I will never be able to give back what he gave to me."
A couple of days earlier, Chambers said he became fatigued during a company run, fell and hit his head. Experiencing dizziness, he was placed on bed rest.
On the night he visited the latrine, Pvt. Luke Bower, his battle buddy, escorted him to make sure he made it there and back safely. Waiting outside the door, Bower heard a loud bang. Inside, he discovered Chambers had slipped and struck his head on the floor again.
He alerted other Soldiers, who went looking for a drill sergeant. They found Andrus conducting a security check and told him Chambers was groaning and unable to speak.
Unaware Chambers had fallen previously that week, Andrus said he raced into the latrine. The basic trainee couldn't talk but moved his fingers in response to questions. Andrus then called 911 and hurried outside to meet the ambulance.
That's when the situation went from bad to grave, the drill sergeant recalled.
"The Soldiers came and told me he stopped breathing," he said.
Andrus immediately returned upstairs. Chambers had turned a light blue complexion, so he started CPR procedures.
"I thought he was going to die," Andrus said. "After the first set of chest compressions and breaths, and he wasn't coming to, I was thinking I might not be doing something right. I didn't want him to die in my hands, knowing I could've done something to save him.
"As a drill sergeant, we deal with a lot of man-down drills. But when someone goes down like he did, it's a rare occurrence. He could've died."
Andrus said he went through a second round of chest compressions and breaths, then began a third, when Chambers finally gasped for air.
The private was carried downstairs as an ambulance arrived. Paramedics took over and rushed him to MACH.
Chambers woke up with a "huge headache," he said. He spent nearly a week in the hospital.
After falling twice in the span of a few days, doctors told him he'd suffered minor head trauma, which caused a small blood clot to appear. It stemmed from the first fall and contributed to his dizziness and second incident in the latrine.
"I've been healthy pretty much my entire life. I ran track in high school," he said. "For this to happen, I was worried. This is the Army. I thought they might send me home, and that would be it. It scared me because I didn't want to leave."
After leaving the hospital, Chambers was given bed rest for four days and then placed on light duty. He's had further tests and follow-up visits at MACH but said he's running and doing push-ups again.
Holiday block leave is set to begin Friday and end Jan. 4. His company graduates Jan. 12, but the hope is he can be recycled once he's medically cleared and pick up at Week 4 in the training cycle with a new company sometime after that.
Andrus was recently presented an impact Army Commendation Medal for his actions that night in November.
"We're glad Private Chambers was in good hands when that incident happened," said 2nd Lt. Jabin Goldstein, D Company's executive officer. "It's almost like fate."
Andrus said he's surprised by the ARCOM, considering drill sergeants are trained in CPR and other lifesaving skills. He now makes a point every day to check on Chambers and see how he's doing.
"I just felt it was part of my job -- I did my job as a drill sergeant," Andrus said. "I take my craft and my job seriously. Anything in my realm as a drill sergeant, I should be exceptional at. I expect excellence from my Soldiers, so I should do the same from myself."
Even though they were in separate platoons, Chambers said he had respect for Andrus before, but it's gone to a whole new level.
"For him to rush up there for a private he really didn't know, that shows me he really does care. That's a hero to me," the private said. "Not only is he a good teacher, he's a good person and a hero."