Soldier saves three, receives highest non-combat award

By Patrick BuffettJuly 26, 2010

1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT MONROE, Va. (Army News Service, July 26, 2010) -- A Virginia Army National Guard Soldier serving an active-duty tour with the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command was awarded the Soldier's Medal at Fort Monroe July 23 for his actions that resulted in saving the lives of three men following a boating accident in the Chesapeake Bay.

Lt. Gen. John E. Sterling, deputy chief of staff for U.S. Army TRADOC, presented Chief Warrant Officer Clifford Bauman the medal during a presentation ceremony attended by Bauman's wife, father, and friends and coworkers at Morelli Auditorium on the Hampton base.

"This is a very auspicious occasion. This is my first-ever opportunity to participate in an award ceremony for the Soldier's Medal," Sterling said. "It's a big event. It's a very significant event, and we need to take notice of it."

The Army has many awards and medals it bestows upon Soldiers for heroism during battle and many recognizing Soldiers for outstanding work performed in the field and in garrison, but the Soldier's Medal is the highest award a Soldier can receive for heroism not directly related to combat.

"We have lots of awards for and recognitions that we do for valor in the face of the enemy, but from time-to-time there is an opportunity for a Soldier to use the skills that he has ... in a life-saving event that doesn't necessarily involve actions in front of the enemy," Sterling said.

Bauman was heralded for his swift actions that saved three men Oct. 3, 2009. Although one man died at the scene, Bauman's quick action and years of Army training gave him the tools he needed to save the other three men.

"With all of the training our Soldiers receive, it's only natural in a situation where life and death was at hand that Chief Bauman stepped in," said Chief Warrant Officer Eddie Whitt, command chief warrant officer of the Virginia National Guard and a mentor to Bauman. "His actions speak highly of the Virginia National Guard Warrant Officer Corps and the Virginia National Guard itself."

After witnessing a barge collide with a small boat in the Chesapeake Bay, Bauman immediately began to radio for help as he piloted his craft toward the accident.

Upon reaching the scene, he realized the injured fishermen were unable to swim. He acted with complete disregard for his own safety, grabbing several life vests and diving into the water, according to the award citation.

Swimming through water contaminated by an oil slick, he reached one fisherman and immediately began CPR after finding him lying motionless and face down in the water. After bringing the unconscious man to another boat, Bauman then swam to the sinking fishing boat where the other three fishermen were struggling to stay alive.

Over the next 40 minutes, he helped each fisherman in turn put on a life vest and aided them as they swam to the safety of the dry boat.