Army Recruiters Stage Rescue During "Total Chaos"

By Miles ElderJuly 5, 2021

Clarksville (Tenn.) Police Department Capt. James Smith describes the scene of a June 7 accident where Clarksville U.S. Army recruiters intervened and tended to those injured in the seven-car pileup. Smith is a retired Army Command Sergeant Major.
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clarksville (Tenn.) Police Department Capt. James Smith describes the scene of a June 7 accident where Clarksville U.S. Army recruiters intervened and tended to those injured in the seven-car pileup. Smith is a retired Army Command Sergeant Major. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Company commander 1st Lt. Aaron Reed talks to Clarksville (Tenn.) Joe Pitts during a June 29 ceremony at City Hall.
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Company commander 1st Lt. Aaron Reed talks to Clarksville (Tenn.) Joe Pitts during a June 29 ceremony at City Hall. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Company commander 1st Lt. Aaron Reed talks to Clarksville (Tenn.) Joe Pitts during a June 29 ceremony at City Hall.
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Company commander 1st Lt. Aaron Reed talks to Clarksville (Tenn.) Joe Pitts during a June 29 ceremony at City Hall.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army)
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Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Station commander Sgt. 1st Class Oran Lewis (center) was recognized for his leadership during a June 7 pileup that happened in front of his recruiting station on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard June 7. He was cited by both Clarksville Fire Department Chief Freddie Montgomery and Mayor Joe Pitts.
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Station commander Sgt. 1st Class Oran Lewis (center) was recognized for his leadership during a June 7 pileup that happened in front of his recruiting station on Wilma Rudolph Boulevard June 7. He was cited by both Clarksville Fire Department Chief Freddie Montgomery and Mayor Joe Pitts. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Station recruiters involved in the June 7 pileup in front of the station. They are shown here with Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts and First Lady Cynthia Pitts during a June 29 ceremony at Clarksville City Hall.
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Station recruiters involved in the June 7 pileup in front of the station. They are shown here with Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts and First Lady Cynthia Pitts during a June 29 ceremony at Clarksville City Hall. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Story and photos by

Lee Elder

U.S Army Recruiting Battalion Nashville

Clarksville, Tenn. (June 30, 2021) – Local U.S. Army recruiters were honored by Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts Tuesday for their bravery in responding to a seven-car pileup on the city’s busiest roadway.

Just before 2:45 p.m. on June 7, recruiters heard a huge crash outside their station on 3031 Wilma Rudolph Blvd. They quickly rushed out of their station and began rendering assistance to motorists ensuring they were evacuated from their vehicles and out of harm’s way.

Pitts gave each recruiter a city coin and they were presented with certificates from both the city’s police and fire departments. The first-term mayor praised the recruiters’ actions and noted its further indicative of the city’s close relationship to the U.S. Army and nearby Fort Campbell, Ky.

Both Police Chief David Crockarell and Fire Chief Freddie Montgomery attended the ceremony. They were joined by many of their staff members, including some who were on site at the time of the pileup.

At Pitts’ invitation, both departments described the Soldiers actions on the scene.

Police Captain James Smith is a retired Army command sergeant major. The 27-year Army veteran painted a bleak picture of the site upon his arrival. He later said he was surprised that none of the drivers were killed.

“I saw total devastation,” Smith said. “Debris was everywhere.”

Two recruiters, Sgt. 1st Class Hank Hurt and Staff Sgt. Brandon Keller, ran to the side of a large dump truck that had been flipped upside down after being hit head on. The two Soldiers quickly kicked out the truck window and freed the driver later identified as Joshua Cozart.

“I saw these people coming out of the station,” Smith said pointing to Soldiers standing in line. “They went right to get the driver out of the truck.”

Clarksville Fire Department Kevin Finch arrived on the scene about the same time. He said he saw recruiters stream out of the station and onto the street.

“When I arrived, it was total chaos,” Finch recalled. “I saw we had a sea of green.

“They were there and they had surveyed the situation and already had jumped into action.”

Finch said he was impressed with the Soldiers’ teamwork and technical competence. He knew their Army training and experience was on full display.

“It was refreshing to know there were true professionals that were able to function in the midst of the chaos,” Finch said. “Most individuals can’t perform to their best when there’s chaos, but you all have been trained and helped us to know you can function in these conditions.”

Finch added, “It was great to see you guys working together. We just want to thank you for being in the right place at the right time.”

Sgt. 1st Class Oran Lewis is the recruiting station commander. He said he heard the brakes squeal quickly followed by the sounds of multiple crashes.

“Everybody just jumped up and went out of their way,” Lewis said. “I was amazed at how quickly instinct takes over.”

Among those on hand for the ceremony was Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Phil Harpel. He reminded those in attendance of the important role recruiters play in sustaining the Army’s strength.

“So many of our young people are already exposed to the military,” Harpel said. “They just need to meet fine people like y’all who are going to give them the true picture, support them, work with them and help them with applications.”

Harpel added, “Thanks for all you do.”

Other recruiters involved were: Sgt. 1st Class Hector Santos, Staff Sgt. James Bonano, Staff Sgt. Alberto Vasquez, Staff Sgt. Tierra Countryman, Staff Sgt. Dylan Olesen, Staff Sgt. Amber Young and Sgt. Nathan Taylor.

Clarksville Station is also the headquarters of the Clarksville U.S. Army Recruiting Company. It is one of seven companies that make up the U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Nashville.