FORT CAMPBELL, Ky—“It’s the action, not the fruit of the action, that’s important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there’ll be any fruit. But that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Pfc. Thomas Bedebaugh, a native of Gaffney, South Carolina, and a Wheeled Vehicle Mechanic for Juliet Forward Support Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), did the right thing when he was driving home from work and saw a vehicle fire at the Marathon Gas Station in Oak Grove, Kentucky. He observed people in the parking lot pouring water on the fire to no effect. Bedebaugh pulled into the station, then ran into the building to get the fire extinguisher. The staff had no idea where the extinguisher was or how to use one and gave him permission to search for it. He found the extinguisher in the back room, went outside and extinguished the fire. While he was putting out the fire, one of the vehicle tires exploded near him, but no injuries were sustained.
“I saw smoke pouring out from the Marathon Gas Station and my instincts instantly kicked in because I’ve always grown up around fire,” said Bedebaugh. “I wasn’t scared because the truck wasn’t on fire long enough; for [the fire] to be in the engine bay, for [the truck] to explode it would have to have been on fire longer than that for [the fire] to go through the fuel lines and get to the gas tank, but the biggest issue was in the truck being right beside the fuel pump and the pallets in the back. I know from my training that if you keep putting water on a fuel fire it’s just going to spread it around, you’re going to need a fire extinguisher for that. After I got the fire extinguisher I ran outside to put out the fire starting from the driver side to the passenger side.”
At that moment Bedebaugh lived up to the Army Values, Selfless Service. This value is where a Soldier puts the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own. Selfless service is larger than just one Soldier. In serving the country, you are doing your duty loyally without thought of recognition or gain, and on that evening Bedebaugh put the welfare of the citizens of Oak Grove above his own without the thought of recognition.
“We were notified of an event that happened in Oak Grove where a Soldier put out a vehicle fire at a gas station,” said Theresa Jarvis, Mayor of Oak Grove. “The Soldier assisted a citizen with an engine compartment fire at a Marathon Gas Station and that was greatly appreciated. We consider that heroic service to the city of Oak Grove and we wanted to recognize him today for his service to Oak Grove and to our country.”
The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how he or she can add to the team’s effort.