By Sgt. Lorne Neff, Indiana National GuardNovember 8, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 2, 2011 -- Two Indiana National Guard Soldiers helped save the lives of more than 20 people on a September evening when the apartment across from where they live went up in flames.
Spc. Michael Conley was working on his truck around 7 p.m., in front of his apartment when he heard his neighbor scream from the pool behind him. At the same time, his roommate, Spc. Caleb Goldsberry, drove up returning from the store. Both went running toward the fire.
"You're trying to get there as fast as you can; do as much as you can," said Goldsberry. "So you've got the fear of failing, but you've got the determination to not fail because you know what's on the line."
Conley said most other people were contently sitting in their apartments.
"I can pretty much say nobody gave me any static about getting out of their apartment," said Conley. "At that point in time, my adrenalin was rushing about 99 percent, I came into the apartment screaming, they didn't argue with me much."
"Everybody wants to grab their mom's purse or little trinkets," said Goldsbery. "That stuff's nice to have, and yeah it might be really important to you, but it's not worth your life!"
The two ran from apartment to apartment, making sure everyone was out. Their clothes blackened from the smoke and soot, they joined the bystanders outside while the firefighters fought to contain the blaze.
"That's when everyone started thanking me," said Conley. "It was humbling, but at the same time, I felt a little 'weirded' out by it, because to me this had to be done."
"I don't consider myself a hero or anything like that," added Goldsberry. "I just feel like I did my job with some overtime."
Both Guardsmen belong to the 384th Military Police Company, headquartered in Bloomington, Ind. They have deployed to Iraq and were in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
"I think being in the Army National Guard and being an MP made me more willing to go into a situation where it could end up badly for me physically. I think it prepared me mentally more than anything," said Conley of his military police training and experience.
"I'm glad that I've had the training I've had," said Goldberry. "I'm glad I'm a Soldier. If I wasn't, I doubt would have responded the same way."
The Soldiers' commander praised their actions for helping their neighbors avert disaster.
"We talk to these Soldiers about living the Army values and we actually have people who truly live those values every day of their life, not just when they're on duty with the National Guard," said Capt. Jesse Carlton, 384th MP Company commander. "I was very proud of them. It was in the line of duty of being a citizen-Soldier, and I couldn't stop smiling. It was great."
As a result of their actions, no one was injured in the fire.