By Ms Kim C Gillespie (USASAC)November 11, 2011
The Army's "Face to the World" just got a little friendlier. Army Security Assistance Command employees provide many countries throughout the world their first regular interactions with the Army through the command's Foreign Military Sales program. Sean Hicks, the senior operations officer with the command's CENTCOM Directorate, normally does business with the Army's Security Assistance Enterprise and CENTCOM Area of Responsibility countries. But on a recent vacation cruise day-excursion in Costa Maya, Mexico, Hicks proved to not only be a friendly tourist, but a hero to victims of a car accident.
Hicks and his family had departed the ship Oct. 20, as it happened to be his birthday, for the shopping area where most of the ship's American tourists would remain for the afternoon. Leaving his family in that area, he rented a four-wheeler and left to visit areas off-the-beaten path.
"I like to see how the people really live in the countries I visit, not just the tourist areas."
As he was returning to the cruise ship area, he came across an accident involving four vehicles that had left the road and were in the water of a local swamp/lake. Hicks, a military veteran, acted immediately.
"There were quite a few people standing around watching, but no one was taking action."
Hicks, diver-trained by the Navy and Army Combat Lifesaver trained, didn't think twice about jumping into the water to rescue the victims.
"First, I brought out a mother who had a broken arm and her young daughter of around 3 or 4, went back in and pulled out two more, both men, and finally I gave rescue breathing to another man whom I pulled from one of the other vehicles," he said.
Hicks also began giving instructions to bystanders.
"Once I acted, others started helping out," Hicks said.
After assisting the victims, a man approached Hicks and thanked him.
"He said he had never seen anyone act so fast," Hicks said.
The stranger, also an American, asked if Hicks was active duty military.
"I laughed and told him that those days were past."
Hicks explained that he was a veteran and had retired from the Army two years ago when he began his civilian career at USASAC.
The man introduced himself as a Secret Service agent at the Washington Field Office and presented Hicks with a coin for his lifesaving efforts.
"He also gave me his business card and told me to stop by their office and visit him if I was in the area," Hicks added.
Hicks is modest about what the Secret Service agent called heroic.
"I just acted when I saw a situation. I didn't even really think about it. I'm just glad everyone survived, especially the man I administered rescue breathing to -- he could have died; but in truth, I think I did only what most other active duty/veterans would have done. I just happened to be there."
Hicks also credits his community connections with spurring him into action. He has a 5-year-old daughter who competes on a Huntsville swim team and he teaches the Red Cross CPR/First Aid and Lifeguarding classes in Huntsville.
"I would say that between my sister and I we train 75 percent of the guards you see at the pools in and around the city, so I would hate to have to tell this story to them and it not be a happy ending," he said.
Hicks says he will continue to visit the "real" areas of countries he visits, but doesn't expect to run into anything quite as challenging as rescuing crash victims from the water.
"I'm still not even sure how that accident happened."