JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas (March 19, 2014) -- A contract specialist at West Point, N.Y., was presented the Distinguished Civilian Service Award during a ceremony March 13 for his quick actions in response to a Taliban suicide attack while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Manuel Medeiros received the award from Col. Dane Rideout, the West Point Garrison commander.

"I'm appreciative someone felt I was worthy of this award," said a humbled Medeiros.

Medeiros deployed as part of the Army Contracting Command deployable cadre from August 2012 to January 2013 as an administrative contract officer in support of the Defense Contract Management Agency. The Mission and Installation Contracting Command contract specialist was responsible for helping manage contracts in support of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police that provided base life support services, vehicles and weapons among other operational support.

On Nov. 21, 2012, while preparing to leave his compound with a security escort team of Soldiers to conduct an audit of inbound equipment at a nearby regional training center, he and the logistics audit team never got the chance to depart.

"We had just walked into the parking lot and were performing preventative maintenance to the vehicle when the blast occurred about 15 to 20 meters away on the other side of a wall that shielded us," he said. "It was close; I felt the rush of air and heat from the blast.

"I'm not going to lie, the first thing that I did was kind of froze, thinking, is this real. After a second, when we heard the screaming of the wounded, we ran toward them and started performing first aid," the 27-year-old said of his first instincts.

His award recognizes his actions for helping establish a security overwatch and performing life saving aid on a severely wounded Afghan guard. He assisted in applying a tourniquet to prevent the guard from bleeding until advance medical treatment was available, and he helped prevent another guard from entering shock.

He credits his knowledge and reaction to training he received as part to the Joint Dawn contracting exercise in 2012 at El Paso, Texas.

"They integrated the combat life saver course with the deployment training, and I got to use it," he said. "You never know."

Although a military brat, he considers Middletown, N.Y., as his home. He joined the West Point contracting office in August 2008.