Despite the potential danger, the Soldiers exemplified the epitome of the Army's core values — personal courage and selfless service. Their bravery was a testament to their commitment and dedication — First Sgt. Joseph Fontenot, Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion,,30th Field Artillery.
Fort Sill, Okla. (Sept. 7, 2023) — In an age when people are more inclined to take out their phones to capture the next viral moment, four Army officers in an act of selfless service, united to rescue a woman trapped in a flipped car after a harrowing accident.
Second lieutenants Michael Bonifazio, Liam Dowd, Stephen Grabher and Erika Hartel, students in the Field Artillery Basic Officer Leadership Course, were driving home from a long day of training when they witnessed the accident.
The incident occurred on East Gore Blvd, near the entrance to the Comanche Nation Casino, when one of the cars was struck by a vehicle coming off the freeway. The impact sent the first car tumbling, rolling three times and ultimately landing on its roof.
The officers immediately rushed to help, where they found the female driver trapped inside. They said their training and background proved invaluable as they worked together to free the driver.
"Our first thought was, there's a person in there and this is really happening and we're here to help. I'm glad we were there," said Dowd, as he described his initial thoughts of witnessing the crash.
Fortunately, the car didn't catch fire, but the rescuers were on high alert for any potential hazards. Bonifazio recalled the incident and pointed to the value of his Army training. “Speaking to the situational awareness aspect of the events, I think our training definitely came into play,” he said.
The actions of the Soldiers did not remain unnoticed by the Lawton civilians who rushed to join the uniformed heroes. Off-duty nurses, construction workers, and others came together to provide support, water, and assistance, creating a powerful example of Lawton’s community spirit.
"It was really amazing to see the amount of kindness, empathy, and time that people were willing to spend on a busy night to stay with this woman and make sure she was OK,” said Hartel
Dowd summed up the experience saying, "Knowing that we were able to help out somebody in need is fulfilling beyond measure. It was an important moment where both uniformed service members and civilians came together to help someone in need, and I'm just happy I could play a part in that."
“Despite the potential danger, the Soldiers exemplified the epitome of the Army's core values — personal courage and selfless service. Their bravery was a testament to their commitment and dedication,” said First Sgt. Joseph Fontenot, Bravo Battery, 1st Battalion, 30th Field Artillery.