JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington – Valor, courage, and bravery. Those words are usually associated with combat action in regard to military personnel, but not all heroic acts by service members are based on wartime efforts, something that Sgt. Alexander Jabin experienced firsthand.
Jabin, a satellite operator/maintainer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, by Lt. Gen. Randy George, commanding general, I Corps and JBLM, during a ceremony at the Memorial Wall located in the Master Sgt. Mark W. Coleman Compound, for saving the life of a driver from a burning vehicle.
“The words ‘Soldier’s Medal’ and ‘for valor’ are etched into the backside of the medal,” George said during his remarks. “Sgt. Jabin absolutely personified these words…as he reminded us by his actions, what a ready Soldier looks like. Acting with initiative, he moved quickly to save another person’s life, and he did this at the very real risk of sacrificing his own life.”
On March 16, 2019, around 2:30 a.m., Jabin responded to a collision and a cry for help on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“That night, Sgt. Jabin ran past me, yelling ‘Help! Call the fire department!’” said Sgt. Komi Amenyo, the noncommissioned officer on-duty at the barracks near the scene of the incident, as he described the scene. “Jabin dove quickly under the fence and ran to the car which was on fire.”
Before Jabin arrived, former Soldiers, Spcs. Josiah Caro-Yost and Aaron Cavazos, who were previously assigned to 1st SFG (A) at the time of the incident, had already arrived to the scene of the incident, but the driver was stuck and the heat from the flames became worse, according to Cavazos.
“The fire had gotten pretty intense, so we backed away,” said Cavazos.
Jabin immediately rushed in and attempted to free the driver from the car despite the intense heat.
“I tried to rip the door open but I was only able to rip off some of the car parts,” said Jabin. “It was a cold night, but the fire from the collision grew more and more intense, like a big bonfire.”
Upon the realization that he couldn’t get the door open, Jabin reached into the car to try to unbuckle the seatbelt. Unsuccessful at that attempt, he realized that he needed something to cut away the seatbelt, Jabin recalled.
“I went back under the fence, yelling for someone to get me a knife to cut the seatbelt,” said Jabin. “Sgt. Amenyo tossed me his knife, but then I looked and immediately noticed that the flames had engulfed the car and the driver had caught on fire.”
At this point, the once-dazed driver was more alert and had partially positioned his upper body out of the driver’s door window, and was screaming for help, according to Jabin.
“He couldn’t fully get out of the vehicle because of his injuries and contorted lower-body position,” Jabin said, “but I figured since he had just enough mobility, we could pull him out the rest of the way.”
Jabin rushed back and grabbed the driver, and called for Cavazos and Caro-Yost to assist, completely removing him from the raging fire.
“I took off my jacket and Sgt. Jabin took off his shirt, and we started using them to (smother) the flames that were still burning on the victim’s body,” said Caro-Yost. “Sgt. Jabin then proceeded to use the knife to cut the belt and burning clothes off the victim’s body.”
The crew then carried the injured driver further away from the scene to a safer location, and Jabin provided first aid that he learned through his Army training and comforted the soldier until paramedics arrived.
Jabin’s actions reminded him of particular words of wisdom from Gen. George Patton, a historic military leader during WWII, George said.
“General Patton often reminded other Soldiers and leaders that a good plan that is violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week,” George said to Jabin. “I would suggest your actions absolutely bore that out on that early morning. It was your discipline, your expertise, your fitness, your presence of mind, amidst so much uncertainty and danger that saved another person’s life.”
Jabin’s selflessness was the best example for all, said George.
“With this medal it is our honor to recognize your willingness to put another’s life ahead of your own, and we are blessed to have you in our ranks,” George said.
Rescuing the driver and saving his life was not accomplished by alone, Jabin said during his remarks.
“I did what anyone else would have done in my position, but I did not save him by myself,” said Jabin. “In the Army, no one succeeds alone. I did my part alongside others.”
The lifesaving efforts and teamwork continued with military police and medical staff providing emergency assistance to the injured driver, said Jabin.
Established in 1926, the Soldier’s Medal is awarded to any person in the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguishes themselves by valor, courage, and heroism by taking action in the face of adversity not involving conflict with an enemy while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army. It was designed to recognize acts of valor during peacetime.
Jabin sustained second-degree burns to his face, arms and hands while rescuing the injured driver.
“I do not know, but I pray the (driver) made a full recovery and that his soul is not forever chained to that terrible event, that he can continue his journey and make good on his second chance in life, which few ever get ,” said Jabin.