Andrew Mahana receives the Department of the Army Commander's Award
Andrew Mahana received the Department of the Army Commander's Award, Feb. 23, 2012, for Civilian Service for his heroic actions after an accident at the Reno Air Races in Nevada

HAWTHORNE ARMY DEPOT, Nev. (March 1, 2012) -- On Sept. 16, 2011, Andrew Mahana thought he was going to have a real treat to be able to watch the Reno Air Races. He was fortunate enough to be given a seat near the front of the field, on the first row of the grandstand, with a fantastic view.

However, the evening turned to a frightening experience as one of the aircraft headed directly toward him. A P51 Mustang piloted by Jimmy Leeward flew down in an arc missing Mahana by about 20 feet. The plane disintegrated as it hit the pavement spreading parts and shrapnel in a wide area.

His previous military service training from U.S. Air Force Self-Aid Buddy Care kicked in automatically as he rushed to assist those nearby. He made makeshift tourniquets for two people using his belt and another person's belt. He used his shirt in holding one man's leg together.

"I served three times in Iraq and never saw anything like this," Mahana said. "It was totally gruesome."

Mahana continued helping as he could for about an hour, finally using cloth banners to cover body parts at the scene.

Mahana was presented a Department of the Army Commander's Award for Civilian Service, which was signed by Brig. Gen. Gustave F. Perna, commander Joint Munitions Command, Feb. 23.

The certificate was presented to Andrew M. Mahana, "for his quick thinking and heroic actions that saved lives and brought comfort to the critically wounded during a mass casualty incident at the September 16, Reno Air Races. He is an outstanding representative of the Quality Assurance Specialist for Ammunition Surveillance Program. Mahana's life saving efforts are commendable and reflect great credit upon himself, the Hawthorne Army Depot, the U.S. Army Joint Munitions Command, the U.S. Army Materiel Command, and the Department of the Army."

Lt. Col. William C. Johnson Jr., commander of Hawthorne Army Depot, and Robert Herbert, senior policy advisor and director of appropriations with Senator Reid's Staff, co-presented the award to Mahana. Herbert praised Mahana's quick thinking and heroic efforts.

He told Mahana that he had also flown as an aerobatic pilot in previous Reno air races. He stated that Senator Reid sent his sincere "Thanks" for his actions and said that additional safeguards would be put in place for any future air races.

"This certificate is just a small token of our appreciation for all you have done," Johnson said.

Johnson further remarked that Mahana was a fine example of how military training, leadership skills and first aid training was not only an asset to the armed forces, but also benefited local communities. He also expressed his appreciation for the civilian workforce and their dedication on the federal, state and local levels.

Mahana said that he was humbled by the award and did not expect any recognition for what he did.

"No award makes anything like that worth it," he said.

He stated that he wished it had never happened and wondered about the folks he helped and the other wounded he saw. His hope is that they recover fully.

Page last updated Thu March 1st, 2012 at 00:00