SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
What started as a quiet afternoon spent enjoying off-duty time and celebrating the Fourth of July weekend in Roatán, Honduras took a sudden turn for one member of Joint Task Force-Bravo on July 2.
U.S. Army Spc. Tyler Holman, a combat medic assigned to the 1st Battalion, 228th Aviation Regiment, was at a local scuba shop packing up his equipment after returning from a dive when he heard yells for help.
"I didn't know what was going on, but the individual was yelling for a doctor or anybody who knew CPR," Holman said. "So I took off and about 50 to 60 meters down the beach four or five people were gathered around a young Honduran lady laying on the ground. She was probably around 13 years old. I kind of put two and two together when I saw her soaked, unresponsive, and looking like she was just pulled out of the water."
Immediately, Holman took control of the situation and positioned the girl to administer CPR. Two minutes later, the girl started breathing again and she was moved to a park ranger's truck to be transported to the hospital.
"She and I were in the backseat and she was breathing a little bit, but crashed on the way up there so I did CPR again," Holman said. "The hospital's on the other side of the island -- usually about a 25 minute drive, but the park rangers made it in 7 minutes. It was pretty difficult trying to keep her breathing and keep myself in the truck."
The moment the truck arrived at the hospital Holman carried the girl to a stretcher. He then watched as the girl became responsive the moment the stretcher's front wheels hit the ER ramp. After talking to a couple doctors to let them know what happened, he was relieved to learn she would most likely make a full recovery.
"The whole ordeal took probably around 15 minutes, but time really didn't exist because my adrenaline was pumping and I was just focused on keeping her alive," Holman said.
Because he was so focused on keeping the girl alive, Holman didn't realize that he didn't have any shoes on, his shirt was partially buttoned, and his wallet was still with his scuba equipment.
Not seeking recognition, Holman only informed his leadership of what transpired because he noticed some of the locals were taking pictures and videos of him and he wanted them to be aware in case he showed up on the local news.
"I'm glad Spc. Holman was in the right place at the right time to take swift action," said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Haynes, 1-228th AVN Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander. "He's one of our many great 'Phantoms' who apply instinct and training in times of need. In this situation particularly, he embodied not only the Army values but the vision of what the 1-228th AVN strives for every day. I'm honored to have him on the Phantom team."
Holman was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal from U.S. Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, but he insists he only did what comes natural to him as a combat medic.
"I didn't do this for an award," Holman said. "As cliché as it sounds, my passion in life is helping people. Any medic in the Army worth their salt would do the exact same thing every time because that's just what we do."
Although Holman is reaching the end of an Army enlistment that's taken him to nine different countries in four years, he will be getting out to resume his pre-med studies and work in the emergency medical services field -- a field he worked in prior to joining the Army.
"Medics and soldiers have a lot in common," Holman said. "Sometimes people get confused about what a hero is. We're not heroes. We just care about people and that's what we want to do -- help."
Giacomo Palavicini, Roatán Marine Park executive director, expressed his gratitude for Holman's actions.
"A man who is true to his values makes a difference to one or more people, which means he also makes a difference in the world." Palavicini continued, "There are people who understand the concept that he had to react because of his heart and values."