Army exchange officer receives Soldier’s Medal for helping derailed train victims in Germany
U.S. Army Col. Charles Bergman, an exchange officer with the German 10th Panzer Division, is awarded the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort in Garmisch, Germany, March 18, 2023. Bergman was recognized for helping the victims of a tragic train derailment that occurred in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on June 3, 2022. (Photo Credit: Courtesy Photo ) VIEW ORIGINAL

WIESBADEN, Germany - A U.S. Army officer who stopped to help the victims of a horrific train derailment in Garmisch-Partenkirchen last year received the Soldier’s Medal on Saturday for acts of heroism in Garmisch.

Col. Charles K. Bergman was presented the award by Gen. Darryl Williams, commanding general of U.S. Army Europe and Africa, during a ceremony at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort.

“This accident was a terrible tragedy and my thoughts are with those whose lives are forever impacted,” Williams said during the ceremony, “but I am thankful Col. Bergman and people like him were there to quickly respond with life-saving efforts and I’m proud to present this medal to him. He reflects the best in all of us.”

On June 3, 2022, Bergman was an exchange officer from Seattle assigned to the German 10th Panzer Division. He was driving to his home in Germany when he witnessed a passenger train jump its tracks next to the autobahn between the small Bavarian towns of Garmisch and Farchant.

He pulled over to assess the scene and—upon hearing shouts and screams of survivors as they stumbled out of the tree line—began to alert emergency services, coordinate casualty collection points, and establish a traffic control point.

Bergman would spend the next 90 minutes assisting rescue personnel and rendering aid to the wounded, according to a Stars and Stripes report published last June.

Bergman, a veteran Soldier who is expecting to retire this year after 30 years of service, said during an interview on Monday that he relied on his experience as an Army leader to be able to respond to the scene the way he did, despite it being unlike any military accident he had ever seen.

He also said that his basic knowledge of Tactical Combat Casualty Care—life-saving techniques that are taught to all U.S. service members—was crucial to his ability to render aid to the wounded.

Officials said that the crash killed five people and injured over 40 more, according to the Associated Press report published days after the incident.

Berman was cited for his “exemplary actions, sense of urgency, and dedication to duty,” but said that this award is for all Soldiers.

“That’s why it’s called the Soldier’s Medal,” Bergman said. “Our soldiers, if confronted with adversity where people are in need of help, it’s in our values to go help however we can. I really think deep in my heart that all of our Soldiers would do the same thing. It’s not about recognizing me, it’s about recognizing what Soldiers do.”

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