By Scott SturkolFebruary 19, 2019
On Jan. 29, Fort McCoy and the local areas surrounding the installation were on the cusp of a polar vortex making its way south from Canada, and the high temperature for that day was right around minus-5 degrees Fahrenheit.
That same day, Kenneth and Maila Kuhn of Tomah, Wis., were traveling down Highway 21 near Fort McCoy when their car got a flat tire. Kenneth then pulled over to the side of the highway and got out to start changing the tire.
But the 81-year-old Kenneth, who recently had heart bypass surgery, never changed the tire because some good Samaritans in the form of Army Soldiers came to his rescue.
Sgts. 1st Class Kenny Anton and Karen Youngblood with the 1st Battalion, 310th Brigade Engineer Battalion of the 181st Multi-Functional Training Brigade stopped to help the Kuhns within minutes after they pulled over on the highway.
"I was heading down 21 from Fort McCoy to Tomah around 4 p.m., and I saw a car on the side of the road with its hazard lights on, so I stopped to see if they needed any assistance," Anton said. "(Mr. Kuhn) said he could change the tire himself, and he asked if I wouldn't mind sticking around because he had recently had triple bypass surgery.
"As soon as he told me that, I got out of the car and went up to help him since I didn't feel it was proper for a man in that condition to be changing a tire in minus-35 wind chill weather," Anton said. "As we were getting the jack under the car, Sgt. 1st Class Youngblood pulled up."
"I stopped because I recognized my coworker's car," Youngblood said. "There wasn't much I could do to help because (Anton) was already working on removing the tire."
Kenneth said Youngblood immediately assisted by placing a hazard sign on the road and by giving comfort to Maila and another passenger.
Anton said he worked quickly to get the tire changed.
"I think I was losing feeling in my fingers because it was so cold," Anton said. "I got the tire off, put the spare on, and off we went. A little further down the road, (Kenneth) got next to me in traffic and motioned for me to pull over, which I did. He attempted to pay me for the help. I thanked him for the gesture and told him I could not accept the money. I stopped to help that day because I saw a fellow person who might be in need."
Kenneth later sent a letter to Garrison Commander Col. Hui Chae Kim expressing his appreciation for what Youngblood and Anton did for them.
"There was a danger of frost bite and hypothermia to all of us, yet they persisted in the tire change," Kenneth wrote. "I am proud of the way these two Soldiers came to my assistance as they were without concern for their own welfare - only ours - despite the extreme cold and dangerous condition of that day."
Anton said he was glad to help was thankful to his fellow unit Soldier in Youngblood for taking the time to help him out. "She ended up being a welcome hand," he said.
Both Youngblood and Anton were recognized for their effort by unit and garrison leadership.