GRAFENWOEHR, Germany- Four U.S. Army Soldiers and one flight surgeon assigned to Bravo Company, 6th General Support Aviation Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, were recognized Feb. 18, 2021, for providing aid to a local German citizen involved in a car accident in December.
Maj. Benjamin Stork, the brigade flight surgeon, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Riedel and Warrant Officer Dave Acton, the pilots, Sgt. Patrick Carter, the flight engineer, and Spc. Bruce Cook, the crew chief, were awarded the golden commander’s coin and a German Certificate of Merit by Brig. Gen. Thomas Hambach, Commander Landeskommando Bayern.
“Today, it is a particular honor and pleasure for me to decorate five U.S. comrades, who have saved the life of a German citizen," said Hambach. "These Soldiers in their helicopter turned out to be his guardian angels. With their resolve to take immediate action by providing first aid and stabilizing measures they sent a strong sign of selfless helpfulness. But above all, they have clearly demonstrated how strong our bonds - bonds between close allies - have grown over the past and will persist in the future. That's what our transatlantic partnership means to us: 'Stronger Together.'"
The crew members recalled the events leading up to treating Joachim Strauch, the citizen injured in the accident.
"We were flying over a ridge in a rural area," said Acton. "When we got over it, my crew chief called the communications system in the back and said he saw a cloud of white smoke on the street below."
“After I called that in, I looked further down the road and saw a car roll over two or three times," said Cook.
“It was like we all simultaneously thought the same thing… that the right thing to do was to assist however we could,” said Riedel. “I like to think it’s natural human instinct to want to stop and help in any way that you can.”
The training these Soldiers received was evident in their ability to assess the situation and quickly react, allowing a life to be saved.
“We are in Europe in support of Atlantic Resolve, and for the most part that means that we train together with our ally and partner military forces,” said Col. Travis Habhab, commander of the 101st CAB. “I think that an important part of building that partnership and trust also lies in connecting with and supporting the local community where we can. The level we train at is what allows us to let these types of responses happen organically, and I’m incredibly proud of our Wings of Destiny Soldiers for making the call to help someone in a situation that could have been much worse.”
Strauch expressed his gratitude to the crew members for their actions that day.
"I am very grateful to the Soldiers who came to help me," said Strauch "When I saw them, it was like something coming from the heavens, like an angel from above."
It is an honor to receive this award," said Stork. "I'm just glad we were able to help."