NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — While on patrol the night of Oct. 4, 2012, a 99th Security Forces Squadron staff sergeant responded to an entry controller’s call of someone behaving erratically outside the main gate.
Little did Staff Sgt. William O’Brien, security forces craftsman, know that before the night was over he would save a fellow Airman’s life.
The call O’Brien received regarded a person walking outside the installation’s main gate that was unsteady on his feet, pale, and appeared to be incoherent. O’Brien determined the man wasn’t intoxicated and was attempting to walk to the Michael O’Callaghan Federal Medical Center several minutes away.
He escorted the Airman to the emergency room and five minutes after their arrival, the Airman lost consciousness.
The doctor’s determined the Airman had swelling of the brain putting him in a coma, and the Airman was transported to a local area hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to reduce the swelling.
For his actions, O’Brien was awarded an Achievement Medal by Col. Barry Cornish, 99th Air Base Wing commander, at an all call Feb. 12 at the base theater.
“I had no idea why I was being told to attend the morning commander’s call and to bring my family,” O’Brien said. “Then[the wing commander] called for me to come on stage and presented me with the Achievement Medal — it was a total surprise and honor.”
O’Brien credits the “save” to the security forces Airmen on duty that night.
“It was a combined group effort that helped save the Airman’s life; it wasn’t just me,” O’Brien said. “I am truly proud that what could have been a horrific and tragic incident was avoided because the Airmen at the gate took the time to see someone in trouble then I was able to come and take him to the emergency room where he was then found to need immediate brain surgery which saved his life.”
The Achievement Medal was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on Oct. 20, 1980. It is awarded to Air Force Airmen for outstanding achievement or meritorious service rendered specifically on behalf of the Air Force. It may also be awarded for acts of courage.