SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Four members of Joint Task Force-Bravo and a local Honduran citizen came to the aid of a man injured in a vehicle accident off base here, Dec. 11, 2013.
U.S. Air Force Capt. Allen Bear, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Michael Batres, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. John Fowler and U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Willie Price were riding in a taxi driven by Jose Adalberto Mejia when they witnessed a car striking a cow that had wandered onto the highway. The vehicle flipped upside down and came to rest in a ditch.
"We saw the vehicle hit the cow. There was a lot of dust, and Jose asked if we could pull over and we told him absolutely, yes, pull over," said Batres. "As soon as he stopped the car, we all jumped out. Jose was the first one to the overturned vehicle and he began speaking to the man inside."
At first, the men were hesitant to move the accident victim, fearing they might cause further injury. But the driver, a U.S. citizen and contract employee at Soto Cano Air Base, continued to ask them to extract him from the vehicle.
"I ran over to the vehicle, and I got on his left side and Jose got on his right and we pulled him out and then we carried him to the taxi," said Batres. "We placed him in the cab and then Jose took off with him to take him to get medical care in Comayagua."
After the victim had been evacuated from the scene, the four service members turned their attention to ensuring the safety of other drivers on the road. The body of the cow was lying in the unlit roadway and vehicles were approaching it at a high rate of speed. Using their cell phones as beacons, the men began directing drivers away from accident site.
"We decided to stay and direct vehicles around the accident scene," said Price. "We were offered a ride back to base, but we wanted to make sure everyone was safe and that no one hit the cow."
Bear contacted the Joint Task Force-Bravo Joint Operations Center to report the incident, and to request support from the local authorities.
"I let them know the situation, let them know that we were all OK, and I requested they call the local Honduran police to come cordon off the area and direct traffic around the scene," said Bear.
Fowler said there was never any question about stopping to help the accident victim.
"It's the right thing to do," he said. "When you see an accident like that, and there is no one around to help, we are obligated to pull over and help. It's just being a Good Samaritan and doing the right thing."
Adalberto Mejia echoed those sentiments.
"When we saw the accident, it doesn't matter if it's a Honduran or an American in the car," said Adalberto Mejia. "It's a human being in there. We had to stop and help."
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Alan McKewan, Commander of Joint Task Force-Bravo's Army Forces Battalion, met with the five men today and expressed his appreciation for their selfless act to help an individual in need.
"This speaks to the character of our service members and the people we work with in the local community," said McKewan. "To many people, stopping to help at the scene of an accident is something extraordinary, but to a service member it's simply part of the job--it's what we do, and it's what we are expected to do. There is a desire there to serve others, and these men truly displayed that selfless nature. I commend them for their actions."