Spc. Joshua Bolden’s commute home on May 27 started out just like any other but ended unlike any he’s had.
The 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion Soldier was on his way to pick up his child from the child’s grandparent’s house when his day took an unexpected turn when he witnessed a three-vehicle collision at Wheeler Road near Interstate 20. One of the vehicles, a truck, flipped on its side.
“My first reaction was to help out,” Bolden said.
Without hesitation, Bolden, a former fire explorer, sprang into action. As he approached the flipped vehicle, the driver told him that she had two children in the back. Bolden was able to get to one of the children rather quickly because the child had unstrapped himself. Bolden lifted the child out of the truck, handed him to a bystander, then proceeded to search for the woman’s daughter, who he had difficulty finding at first because she was dangling from a car seat.
“Since she was hanging upside down, it was kind of hard for me to unstrap her while she was suspended in the air,” Bolden recalled.
His brother-in-law, who had also been in the vehicle with Bolden, assisted by holding his feet.
“He had me pretty secure, so I was able to unstrap her from the car seat and pull her out,” Bolden said. “That was pretty much it. I just left after everybody was good and out of the [vehicle].”
Bolden thought that was it – until an eyewitness reached out to Fort Gordon authorities later that day seeking to give recognition to the Soldier.
Lela Leday, of Grovetown, had also stopped to help and was in awe of Bolden’s quick response.
“He immediately asked everyone to step back, he jumped onto the truck’s side and pulled the door open and yelled, "There are two kids in here and one is in a car seat,” Leday said of the first few moments on scene.
Bolden helped the family escape before paramedics arrived and helped calm the situation.
“When the paramedics got there, he gave them a report on their conditions and then left the scene not looking for any kudos,” Leday said.
But Leday wasn’t about to let him go so easily. She managed to get Bolden’s name before taking off.
Within hours, Bolden’s chain of command had gotten word of his heroic actions, and the news began to spread, catching the attention of local news stations.
Surprised by all the attention, Bolden insists he was just doing what came as “second nature” to him. The son of a firefighter, Bolden said that “helping people” isn’t “a new thing” to him.
“It’s just something that you should do,” he said.
Although Bolden does not consider himself a hero, others in the community feel otherwise.
“What he did was selfless and very brave,” Leday said. “I was proud of this young man, as an amazing human being as well as a brave United States Soldier.”
Bolden’s company first sergeant described him as an “outstanding Soldier” who is an example for others to follow.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from him,” said 1st Sgt. Steven Manuel, C Co., 67th ESB. “I knew he would do something like that if he was put in a situation.”