Soldier receives prestigious award for saving citizen's life

By Fonda Bock, U.S. Army Human Resources Command Public AffairsOctober 23, 2023

The first time Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, right, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, encountered Dianna McMahan she was unconscious. They met in-person Oct. 20, 2023, just prior to a Soldier’s Medal presentation ceremony. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism.
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The first time Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, right, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, encountered Dianna McMahan she was unconscious. They met in-person Oct. 20, 2023, just prior to a Soldier’s Medal presentation ceremony. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL
Col. Jeanette Martin, center, director, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, applauds Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, center, information technology specialist assigned to EMoD, as Angela Spidell, Spidell-Flores mother, smiles Oct. 20, 2023, following the promotion of Spidell-Flores who was promoted in accordance with her career achievements. The promotion followed an award presentation during which Spidell-Flores was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism.
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Jeanette Martin, center, director, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, applauds Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, center, information technology specialist assigned to EMoD, as Angela Spidell, Spidell-Flores mother, smiles Oct. 20, 2023, following the promotion of Spidell-Flores who was promoted in accordance with her career achievements. The promotion followed an award presentation during which Spidell-Flores was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT KNOX, Ky. — A Soldier with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command was awarded the prestigious Soldier’s Medal Oct. 20 here for saving the life of a woman following a fatal car accident in Muldraugh, Kentucky, a year ago.

Staff Sgt. Aschlynd Spidell-Flores, an information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, HRC, was driving north on U.S. Route 31W Oct. 3, 2022, when she heard a crash ahead. A few moments later she arrived at the scene of the accident where two cars had collided and hit the guard rail.

According to a Kentucky State Police, Saffire Doss was traveling north and veered into the southbound lanes and was struck by Dianna McMahan. Both vehicles came to final rest with their front ends touching the southbound guardrail facing west. Doss was pronounced deceased at the scene. McMahan’s vehicle had a significant gas leak and there were small fires just out of range of the accident.

Spidell-Flores immediately got out of her car to assist. After trying to pry open the door of Doss,’ vehicle, Spidell-Flores realized she was likely deceased and proceeded to help McMahan.

“Her car was also up to the guard rail and it was smoking,” Spidell-Flores said. “There were fires everywhere, I could hear a ticking noise and that’s what really prompted me to get her out. I guess the fluid was dripping. I could see sparks under the car, so I was like ‘if I don’t get her out of the car, this could be it.’”

Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, right, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, smiles Oct. 20, 2023, following a Soldier’s Medal award ceremony. Also pictured are Sgt. Ashlee Lowe, left, and Col. Jeanette Martin, center, director, EMoD. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Maria McClure, U.S. Army photo)
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, right, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, smiles Oct. 20, 2023, following a Soldier’s Medal award ceremony. Also pictured are Sgt. Ashlee Lowe, left, and Col. Jeanette Martin, center, director, EMoD. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Maria McClure, U.S. Army photo) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL
Col. Jeanette Martin, center, director, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, pins the Soldier’s Medal on to the chest of Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, information technology specialist assigned to EMoD, Oct. 20, 2023, during an award ceremony. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Jeanette Martin, center, director, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, pins the Soldier’s Medal on to the chest of Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, information technology specialist assigned to EMoD, Oct. 20, 2023, during an award ceremony. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL
Master Sgt. Uriah Britt, sergeant major, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, talks to Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, information technology specialist assigned to EMoD, about the responsibilities she will encounter as a staff sergeant Oct. 20, 2023, following her promotion she received in accordance with her career achievements. Britt said Spidell-Flores epitomizes selfless service. Before her promotion, Spidell-Flores was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Master Sgt. Uriah Britt, sergeant major, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, talks to Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, information technology specialist assigned to EMoD, about the responsibilities she will encounter as a staff sergeant Oct. 20, 2023, following her promotion she received in accordance with her career achievements. Britt said Spidell-Flores epitomizes selfless service. Before her promotion, Spidell-Flores was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for risking her life when pulling Dianna McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following a fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL

Spidell-Flores pried open the passenger door and entered the car. When she leaned McMahan’s head back from the steering wheel, Spidell-Flores noticed her head injury.

“I was asking her if she was OK. When she finally responded, I told her I was going to get her out of the car,” Spidell-Flores said. “I could tell she could not move because of a [foot] injury. It looked as if her leg wasn’t attached to her foot.

“I was really frantic because I could see through the steering wheel to the outside of the car and it was catching on fire. I put my arms in an X across her chest and started to scoot [out the door], but the door wouldn’t open and I started panicking because it was hot.”

The door finally opened, and Spidell-Flores pulled McMahan to a safe distance away from her vehicle. Spidell-Flores took off her belt to make a tourniquet at the lower part of the Mcmahan’s leg to stop the bleeding and then stayed with her until medical attention arrived.

“Staff Sgt. Spidell-Flores changed the lives of a lot of people that day,” said Col. Jeanette Martin, director, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, who presented her with the Soldier’s Medal.

“This great American stops … to render assistance. That alone says a lot of this young NCO,” Martin said. “She’s providing first aid to the victim after pulling her from her vehicle, among smoke and fire with no regard for herself. She did that selflessly without any thought about ‘what if.’ So not only are we honoring a great Soldier, we’re honoring an all-around great American.”

Although she is grateful, humbled and honored, receiving the Soldier’s Medal stirs up mixed emotions, Spidell-Flores said.

“I never do anything for any accolades, I’m just doing it to help,” she said. “It’s like an umbrella of emotions — excitement and sadness. I know this ceremony wouldn’t be taking place if it [didn’t] involve somebody’s life who could no longer be here today and someone who could have potentially passed away as well.”

Spidell-Flores never thought twice about risking her life to help.

“It’s an ‘oh my God’ type of moment, like I need to get in there and get that person out of there,” she said. “I could have gotten injured. Her car was hot — when I put my forearm on the steering wheel to lean her back it was like steaming hot, but I didn’t care what I had to do to get her out — what could have happened, I didn’t care.”

McMahan presented Spidell-Flores with a thank gift for saving her life — a star with the engraved words, ‘Thank you for being my hero Aschlynd U.S. Army.’

Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, left, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, and Luke Cooper, Dianna McMahan’s brother, listen as McMahan describes her recovery from injuries she suffered from a fatal car accident prior to an Oct. 20, 2023, Soldier’s Medal presentation ceremony. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following an accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, left, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, and Luke Cooper, Dianna McMahan’s brother, listen as McMahan describes her recovery from injuries she suffered from a fatal car accident prior to an Oct. 20, 2023, Soldier’s Medal presentation ceremony. Spidell-Flores was awarded the medal for risking her life when pulling McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle Oct. 3, 2022, following an accident on U.S Route 31W. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL
Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, center right, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, gets emotional as Dianna McMahan, center left, describes the injuries she suffered from an Oct. 3, 2022, fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. Spidell-Flores and Dianna McMahan were being interviewed by Christie Battista, reporter, WDRB TV-Louisville. Spidell-Flores was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for risking her life when pulling McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle following the accident. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. Also pictured is Angela Spidell, right, Spidell-Flores mother.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Staff Sgt. Aschlynd M. Spidell-Flores, center right, information technology specialist assigned to the Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, gets emotional as Dianna McMahan, center left, describes the injuries she suffered from an Oct. 3, 2022, fatal car accident on U.S Route 31W. Spidell-Flores and Dianna McMahan were being interviewed by Christie Battista, reporter, WDRB TV-Louisville. Spidell-Flores was awarded the Soldier’s Medal for risking her life when pulling McMahan out of her smoldering vehicle following the accident. The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for heroism. Also pictured is Angela Spidell, right, Spidell-Flores mother. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Maria McClure) VIEW ORIGINAL
Upon receiving the Soldier’s Medal, then Sgt. Aschlynd Spidell-Flores, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, addresses the survivor of a fatal car crash that earned her the Soldier’s Medal during an awards ceremony Oct. 20 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Spidell-Flores is noted for heroically intervening after two vehicles collided on Oct. 3, 2022, in Muldraugh, Kentucky. She recalled her initial training and the Army values that kept her focused on saving a life that day.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Upon receiving the Soldier’s Medal, then Sgt. Aschlynd Spidell-Flores, Enterprise Modernization Directorate, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, addresses the survivor of a fatal car crash that earned her the Soldier’s Medal during an awards ceremony Oct. 20 at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Spidell-Flores is noted for heroically intervening after two vehicles collided on Oct. 3, 2022, in Muldraugh, Kentucky. She recalled her initial training and the Army values that kept her focused on saving a life that day. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Fonda Bock) VIEW ORIGINAL

This was the first time the two had officially met since the accident.

“The only thing I remember from the accident is her voice saying ‘we’re going to get you out of here.’ It was like the voice of an angel, it was very calm,” McMahan said. “I don’t have much memory of what happened before or after for several days. But her voice stays in my mind and I’m just very thankful she was there. It’s an overwhelming thankful feeling to finally be able to hug the neck of the person who saved my life.

“I’m so thankful to still be alive and to still be able to spend some time with my family that [Staff Sgt. Spidell-Flores] has allowed me to do,” McMahan said.

Martin said, to date, the Soldier’s Medal has only been awarded to 18,520 soldiers. Only 278 Soldiers who are currently serving on active duty wear the medal.

The Soldier’s Medal is the highest peacetime award for an act of heroism in a noncombat situation that the secretary of the Army can bestow upon a Soldier and is seventh highest in order of precedence. It is awarded to persons of the Armed Forces of the United States who have distinguished themselves by heroism for acts of bravery involving personal hazard and the voluntary risk of life not involving actual conflict with an enemy and is comparable to that of the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism.

Immediately following the award ceremony, Spidell-Flores was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant in accordance with her career achievements.