Salutes & Awards

April 18, 2014

Heroes walk amongst us every day

Tags:
Staff Sgt. LUTHER MITCHELL
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Courtesy photo Courtesy photo
“The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.” ~Abraham Lincoln
One Airman did just that when he found himself downrange in the thick of war.

It was April 2008 and Maj. Scott Smith, 56th Comptroller Squadron commander, had been on Phoenix base in Iraq for almost a year. The whole time he was there, it wasn’t uncommon for the base to get hit with indirect fire from the enemy. On this particular day, the base went into lockdown as rockets fell like rain.

After some time, all-clear was called and Smith and his wingmen returned to the gym to finish their workout. Within minutes, a 105-millimeter rocket penetrated the building and landed on a machine Smith was on just seconds before it hit.

“The good Lord was definitely looking out for us that day,” Smith said.

Smith woke from the blast, unaware of what had happened.

“I just remember coming to to the sound of screams, seeing black smoke pouring through the building, and the guy next to me was wounded,” he said.

Bombs went off in rapid succession, not giving Smith and the people around him enough time to seek shelter. Screams filled the air, and people, putting their lives at risk, rushed in to help the wounded.

“What I learned in that moment of crisis is that there are people who will rise to the occasion,” Smith said. “Some people are predisposed in the moment of crisis to answer that call, and it might not be the people you thought it would be.”

Although the “all clear” hadn’t been given, people on the outside hearing the screams rushed into the building and started pulling people out. One guy grabbed Smith and pulled him outside the building and then went back in and grabbed another guy who was wounded next to him.

In all, two Soldiers were killed and more than a dozen people were wounded in the attack.

It could have been a lot worse, Smith said.

He performed self-aid buddy care on the wounded and helped load them into a sports utility vehicle heading to the hospital. Then aftershock set in, and Smith himself was taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury and post-concussion.

He finished his tour, returned home and a few weeks later received a Bronze Star and Purple Heart in the mail. The whole experience has been humbling, he said.

“I’m extremely humbled by it in the sense that there were two individuals that did not walk out of there,” Smith said. “I don’t like to advertise it, but when I do wear the medals, I wear them for those men.”

After returning home Smith worked on getting himself back to living a normal life. He dealt with guilt and post-traumatic stress from the incident. However, with the help of his supervisors and support staff he fought back.

“For well over two months it was game on,” Smith said. “When you are faced with that kind of barrage, your body is programmed to act differently. Luckily I was blessed with supervisors who gave me the summer to reacclimatize myself.”

From his experiences downrange, Smith learned that rising to the occasion also means asking for help when you need it.

“I tell my troops that if they are ever in a situation where they need help, go get it,” Smith said. “We won’t look at it as a negative thing. I actually view it as a sign of strength, that you have that courage to stand up and go seek help.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Pg-3

Honorary commanders bid farewell

Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to the outgoing honorary commanders Sept. 17 at Club Five Six. The Honorary Commander Program fosters relationships between local civic and business leaders and base p...
 
 

News Briefs September 26, 2014

CPTS closed The finance office is closed Monday and Thursday. It will be open regular business hours, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. For more information, call 1st Lt. William Liaw at 623-856-6035. Comprehensive Airman Fitness Comprehensive Airman Fitness Training is Oct. 14 through 16. It is a three-day course for Airmen...
 
 

Thunderbolt of the Week

Senior Airman Jordan Provencher-Olaes 56th Communications Squadron Network infrastructure technician   Hometown: Chandler, Arizona Years in service: Two Family: Parents, Bridget and Rustico Olaes; brothers, Devon and Ethan Provencher Inspirations: My parents gave me the strength and courage to strive in all areas of life; CS leaders’ mentorship has inspired me to be the very...
 

 
Airman 1st Class Cory Gossett

POW/MIA day commemorated at Luke

Airman 1st Class Cory Gossett Members of the 56th Fighter Wing Honor Guard perform the folding of the flag at the conclusion of the POW/MIA retreat ceremony Sept. 19 at Luke Air Force Base. A warm, breezy late summer afternoon ...
 
 

Chaplain’s thoughts …

Luke Air Force Base held a ceremony to honor America’s prisoners of war and missing in action Sept. 19. There are 83,189 personnel still unaccounted for from conflicts dating back to WWII, according to the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office. These numbers represent countless American families who grieve because they do not...
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

TAP changes to better prepare Airmen for civilian life

Senior Airman Grace Lee Dawn Reynolds, American Veterans representative, speaks to a Transition Assistance Program class. The Luke Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center Transition Assistance Program has recently und...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin