DAVISON ARMY AIR FIELD, Va. (Nov. 4, 2013) -- A 12th Aviation Battalion Soldier was enjoying some down time at Panama City Beach, Panama City, Fla., when he heard a mother crying for help. It's what he did next that earned him the Soldier's Medal.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Thomas F. Oroho, D Company commander, 12th Aviation Battalion, received the medal from Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, Nov. 1, at Davison Army Air Field's Stone Hangar, for helping rescue two people who were drowning.
Oroho dove into the water in a strong rip-tide at Panama City Beach in Florida, Sept. 1, 2012, to save a drowning father and daughter. Two additional Soldiers followed him into the water to help out with the rescue. The three of them broke free of the current and brought the father and daughter safely to shore.
Oroho was presented the medal in front of a distinguished crowd of friends, family and Soldiers. Odierno said the he is proud of what Oroho represents. The U.S. Army instills in Soldiers good character and the importance of helping others.
"The general population depends on us," Odierno said. "We will always be there to do what is right."
He commended Oroho for his act of bravery. The Soldiers involved in the rescue risked their lives and did not have to jump into the water, Odierno said. Oroho is also one of the best UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilots in the Army, he added.
Odierno also recognized Oroho's family during the ceremony. Families make tremendous sacrifices so Soldiers can serve the nation, Odierno said.
The Soldier's Medal is given to Soldiers who perform an act of heroism that does not involve conflict with an enemy. It was established by Congress, July 1926. A new design for the award was approved, May 1930.
On the date of the incident, Oroho was in Panama City for Labor Day weekend, after participating in a staff course at Fort Rucker, Ala. He was with some friends from his unit at Panama City Beach, right before the rescue took place.
He heard the mother of the drowning daughter crying for help before he dove into the water. He said he will never forget the look of helplessness on the face of the father when he was asked to let go of his daughter during the rescue.
Before becoming D Company commander, Oroho also served as a maintenance officer, platoon leader and production control officer during various assignments within the Army. He has deployed to Bosnia and Iraq. He has earned more than 12 military awards and decorations over the course of his career.
During his public remarks, Oroho said receiving the Soldier's Medal is an honor that he never expected to receive. He thanked God for putting him in the right place at the right time. Oroho said that the Army instills the importance of respect, honor and integrity. He learned that he is always on duty, 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.
Oroho thanked his family and fellow Solders for attending the medal presentation. He said it was an honor to receive the award from Odierno and he was humbled by the ceremony.
"I'm overwhelmed," Oroho said after the medal presentation. "I don't think I did anything that any other Soldier wouldn't have done."
He has been married for 15 years to his wife, Kathy, and they have three children.