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178th Airman rescues car accident victims, earns medal

Chief poses with general holding certificate

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Sigler, receives the Ohio Distinguished Service Medal for rescuing victims of a car accident at Springfield-Beckley Air National Guard Base in Springfield, Ohio, Dec. 19, 2018.

SPRINGFIELD-BECKLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ohio --

A panic-stricken driver emerged from her minivan as downed power lines lay around her vehicle. U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Sigler, a member with the 178th Wing, had been following behind her. He quickly approached the scene to provide assistance after witnessing the van take a sharp curve in the road too quickly. It cartwheeled into the air and landed on its roof, with four victims trapped inside.

“You don’t have a lot of time to think about what’s going on,” said Sigler. “You have to make good decisions quickly.”

He helped the driver carefully climb out of the vehicle, ensuring the electrical wires did not cause more harm to her. He then turned to the three children still stuck inside, dangling upside down in their car seats.

Sigler calmed the upset children and began unbuckling them from their car seats and delivering them to safety outside of the van. The children, ages two, four and six, thanked Sigler for helping them.

“To hear a four-year-old thank me after something like that was just really cool,” said Sigler.

As emergency responders arrived on the scene, Sigler realized the gravity of what had occurred. The victims emerged with minimal injuries thanks to his careful assessment of the scene and timely assistance.

“I think some people may have ran from the situation or turned away from it,” said Sigler. “But we as Airmen are taught to go toward the incident to help.”

Sigler received the Ohio Distinguished Service Medal for his act of courage. His bravery highlights how Air National Guardsmen are citizen soldiers on and off duty.