Aviation branch CSM commends Soldier's lifesaving response

By Kelly MorrisAugust 4, 2023

Just after the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Best Squad/ Drill Sergeant of the Year winners were honored in a ceremony July 28, 2023, Command Sgt. Maj. Kirk R. Coley recognized Warrant Officer Ruel D. Lindsay II for helping to respond to a medical emergency that occurred during the competition.

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“We had a significant incident along the way flying back from Eglin Air Force Base, and everyone on the scene basically said how you jumped into action and probably led to saving the life of an individual who ... could have been worse, whether it’s just providing that oversight, that coverage, monitoring the patient until we were able to get back to safety,” Coley said.

“Thank you for jumping into action when you were needed to help save that Soldier’s life,” said Coley, as he presented a coin.

He also commended Lindsay for putting his photography skills to good use capturing the competition.

The incident happened on Day 3 of the USAACE Best Squad/ Drill Sergeant of the Year competition. The competitors boarded a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and flew down to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for a “mystery event” obstacle course. Lindsay traveled with them, with a camera in tow, as he was on detail supporting USAACE public affairs team for the week.

The Soldiers completed the obstacle course in the intense heat that day, and got back on the helicopter to return to Fort Novosel. A few minutes into the trip, a Soldier seated next to Lindsay had a medical emergency.

“He had tons of cramps, and couldn’t control his body spasming at all,” Lindsay said. “As he started moving about I reached over and grabbed him and made sure he wasn’t going to potentially harm himself, just if there was any turbulence or anything like that.”

The symptoms indicated a heat casualty. Lindsay kept an ear close to the Soldier’s face, and in turn shouted what the Soldier was saying to the onboard medic, Sgt. Maximillian D. Henderson, who quickly went into action. Various Soldiers assisted, followed the lead of the medic and the crew chief, Staff Sgt. Jacob D. Pentecost.

Lindsay recalled that as the Soldier’s condition worsened, the crew chief directed that the Soldier be placed on the floor.

“The medic, myself and two staff sergeants were trying to massage out his cramps, because his whole body was starting to involuntarily lock up. You could see his muscles rippling. It was kind of crazy,” Lindsay said.

The crew chief quickly notified the pilots of the emergency. The medic gave the Soldier fluids with electrolytes, as the other Soldiers continued to help provide care, he explained.

“We all just kind of jumped into action together,” Lindsay said. “Definitely a team effort. A few times the medic had to prep his stuff and the crew chief, Staff Sgt. Pentecost stepped into that leadership void. No one stepped on anyone’s toes.”

An ambulance was waiting when the aircraft landed at Howze Field, and Lindsay said he and others assisted the medic in carrying the Soldier to the ambulance, placing him on a stretcher.

The Soldier was transported to a local hospital for treatment. Members of USAACE G-3 office and the 110th Aviation Brigade monitored the Soldier’s progress and visited him. Lindsay said when he spoke to the Soldier the following day, he was improving. He was thankfully able to attend the ceremony with his teammates on Friday.

Lindsay said in situations like this, he is typically not one to panic.

“I just go into assess mode. I’m like, hey, what’s wrong, what do you need me to do,” he said. “I was never worried. I made sure to rely on the judgment call of the professional.”

Lindsay, who has been at Fort Novosel for a few months, originally served in the U.S. Air Force for six years before transitioning to the Army to pursue the street-to-seat flight school path.

From the time he was a child, he knew he wanted to serve, and originally wanted to pursue Infantry, but someone at his church convinced him to join the Air Force. He served as an air transportation specialist handling cargo movement.

“I joined the military to do exciting things,” he said. “The whole purpose of enlisting was to make myself a better officer.”

At some point he attended an Air Force commissioning town hall and happened to meet someone who had served in the Army who talked to him about becoming an Army aviator.

He earned a qualifying score on the Selection Instrument for Flight Training test, got a few surgeries out of the way, put in his packet and was accepted for flight school, and now has his aim set on flying Apache helicopters.

Lindsay said he likes to talk to people because it tends to open doors, like when he struck up a conversation with the USAACE public affairs officer one day. Within a couple of weeks, he ended up getting an opportunity not only to revisit an old hobby and help capture and communicate about a military competition but, more important, to help save a life.

Whether in an emergency or in life in general, Lindsay’s mantra is all about being unafraid to make a decision, with an emphasis on personal responsibility.

"Everything starts with a decision, whether it be a decision to wake up a little bit earlier, or a decision to ask someone what kind of camera they have," he said.

“I think it comes down to just taking ownership for your actions and where it leads you. You end up more grateful, more responsible, and certainly more humble,” he said. “There’s nothing better than making decisions and making things happen, being an active participant in your own life.”