By Sgt. Beth Lake, Third Army/U.S. Army Central Public AffairsDecember 9, 2009
The morning of February 20, 2008 began with a series of events that would forever change Staff Sgt. Christopher Bolden, a Dallas Texas native and seasoned Army Ranger serving as the Digital Army Liaison Team assistant operations noncommissioned officer at the Third Army/U.S. Army Central headquarters at Ft. McPherson, Ga.
Bolden, like many other Soldiers at Third Army, lives in one of Atlanta's suburbs that provide a quieter atmosphere from the bustle of city life, yet demand a 30-minute drive to work each day. To ease the burden of the commute, Bolden was a member of a car pool. In a twist of fate or divine intervention, Bolden missed his car pool that cold winter morning, causing him to make the trip on his own.
"I was on my way to work on my bike going down highway 154 in Newnan," Bolden said. "There was a black car in front of me and she veered off the road and the car flipped over."
Without thinking, he parked his bike and ran to the car to see if there was anyone inside. The sole occupant of the vehicle had been thrown from the car.
"She was badly injured and I took off some of my ACUs (army combat uniform) to help stop the bleeding," Bolden said. "She had a broken leg, a broken collar bone, and she had multiple lacerations."
Seeing other drivers stop at the scene, Bolden quickly took charge.
"I told them to find her bag, find her phone and find something that had her name in it so we could contact her family, and of course, call police," Bolden explained. "I was directing people and then we waited for the paramedics."
The victim of the accident, Lisa Bennett, herself a paramedic, remembers very little from the scene of the accident.
"I remember waking up in the ambulance and from the questions the paramedics were asking me, I knew I was badly injured," she said.
What she didn't remember were the details she was told after she spent two months in the hospital recovering and undergoing extensive therapy.
"A woman who stopped at the scene described how Chris (Bolden) treated me," Bennett said.
The woman said Bolden spent the 15 minutes waiting for paramedics to arrive talking to Bennett, consoling her and caring for her wounds.
"I am a paramedic myself and I see daily what accidents happen and acute trauma and how fast a life can be snuffed out," Bennett said. "If it wasn't for Chris, I could have been paralyzed."
Nearly two years after the accident, Bennett has recovered and came to the Third Army headquarters to see Bolden awarded the Soldiers Medal, the highest award for valor during peacetime, at a Dec. 7 ceremony at Fort McPherson. Bolden recently reenlisted to stay in the Army and will head to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida to become a Ranger Instructor at the 6th Ranger Training Battalion.
Third Army Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty opened the award ceremony describing the duty a Soldier feels.
"We are in a profession of arms," Twitty said. "We live by a values-based organization. Those values being the values that we take not only from our home-life, but what the Army--the military--has engrained in us over the years."
Twitty then described the impact Bolden's training as a Soldier had on his decision to stop at the scene of the accident.
"We not only take care of ourselves in uniform but we have an obligation and we view that obligation to take care of everyone in this nation," Twitty said. "We don't take off this uniform when we get off every day and Staff Sgt. Bolden is an example of that."
Twitty explained that Bolden, himself, is already a Soldier that stands above his peers.
"Already he stands a cut above," Twitty paused," just think about the nine years he has served- five times in Iraq, four times in Afghanistan - airborne ranger. He has met the call of duty, not only in combat, but as you can see today in his civilian life as well."
For Bolden, his actions were simply the right thing to do.
"I'm not a hero," Bolden said after being awarded the medal. "I just did what anyone else would have done. If it had been me, I would have wanted someone to stop and help me."
Bennett sees his actions differently. In a tearful thank you, she described a scar she has on her face from the accident and says she has been touched by her angel.
"He's the only person that stopped on that busy morning," Bennett said. "It's o.k. for everyone else to say that is what they would have done, but he is the only one who stopped. I don't know how you thank someone for doing what he did. I want him to know he will forever be in my heart."