FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Staff Sgt. Ian Phillips normally spends his days molding America’s sons and daughters into Military Police Soldiers in his role as a drill sergeant with Company B, 787th MP Battalion. While he’s usually doing the instructing, Phillips was able to demonstrate his MP skills while driving in Waynesville a few weeks ago.
It was about 6 p.m. the evening of Oct. 23, and Phillips said he was driving uphill on T Highway.
“The road is really steep,” he said. “I’m coming up the hill and the driver of a red pickup truck was coming down the hill the other way. I saw him, but I wasn’t paying too much attention. Then out of nowhere, he started turning and his vehicle flipped three times. It started rolling down the hill in my direction.”
Phillips’ vehicle was far enough away from the rolling truck to not be in danger, so he pulled over and called 9-1-1 before approaching the vehicle, which had come to rest back on its wheels after hitting the barrier on Phillips’ side of the road.
“The basic thing we’re taught when we show up to an accident is to check to see if anyone needs medical attention,” he said. “It was just the driver in the truck. He was conscious, but it looked like he was bleeding from his face. He was trying to take his seatbelt off and I said to him, ‘Hey sir, I have an ambulance on the way. Try not to move, just in case you have a spinal injury.’ I had him on speaker phone to relay information to the dispatcher.”
A few other drivers pulled over and started talking to the driver of the truck as well, Phillips said, and then police, an ambulance and a fire truck arrived.
Phillips said he stayed to provide a statement for the police, and that’s when he found out the truck had been hit by another vehicle, which caused the rollover.
“I didn’t see it from my angle,” he said. “I thought he must’ve been going too fast on the turn, but he actually got hit from behind.”
As a courtesy, Phillips then called his unit to let them know about his role as a witness to the accident, in case it later showed up in the police blotter.
“I told them I was just giving them a heads up — this is what happened,” he said. “They encouraged me, told me, ‘good job.’”
The next day, Phillips was informed that he was put in for an Army Achievement Medal for his actions that evening.
Bravo Company 1st Sgt. Angelica Lopez called Phillips a professional, who helps maintain a positive command climate in the unit while always looking for ways to improve the training experience. She said his decisive actions and attention to detail that night was a demonstration of the Soldier’s commitment, not just to fellow service members, but also the community.
“Your response can be the difference between that person being able to see their family one more time or not,” Lopez said. “That feels especially important now that we are so close to the holidays.”
Phillips, who has been an MP for eight years and a drill sergeant a little more than six months, said his ability to remain calm at the accident was helped by his Army training and a lot of repetition.
“It wasn’t my first time seeing something like that, unfortunately,” he said. “Of course, every time, you get an adrenaline rush — it’s not a fun experience by any means — but at the same time, I was able to stay calm and think clearly, and I think you can chalk that up to having experience, knowing that if I freak out, then this guy is going to be in a lot more trouble than he already is. It comes down to repetition, whether it’s a private in training, or a refresher course or real life.”