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Meet Your Military: Soldier Gets Honor for Car Crash Heroics

support our troops us soldier recieves honorPHOTO: Army Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia helped stabilize an injured man’s neck after he witnessed a fiery car crash Dec. 16, 2013, on Interstate 5 near Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the state of Washington. Garcia, an infantryman, attributes his quick reaction during the accident to this combat training. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Sept. 12, 2014 – The memory of the fiery accident that occurred near here on Interstate 5 last December is still fresh for Army Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia. His actions that day -- disregarding his own well-being as he rushed into the crash zone to help rescue the injured -- are hard to forget. For his heroic conduct, Garcia was honored Sept. 10 at the American Red Cross Heroes Breakfast held in Tacoma, along with other community heroes. Garcia was driving home from a 24-hour shift on Dec. 16, 2013, when he saw a truck towing a trailer heading northbound suddenly cross the center meridian and hit a box truck, both of which burst into flames.

Without thought, Garcia pulled his car over and rushed into the flaming crash where he started to help the injured. Before long, he found himself in the back seat of a truck stabilizing the neck of a man suffering from a concussion. He stayed in the truck with the injured man until the fire department arrived and removed the roof of the vehicle. Now, almost a year later and in the midst of a busy training schedule, Garcia, who hails from New York City, was surprised to learn that he was receiving an award for his actions. “Actually, I never even thought about it,” said Garcia, an infantryman assigned to 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team here. “Once I got contacted the first time it was a shock,” Garcia said. “I didn’t know people even saw the crash. It means the world to think that someone out there put me in for this award.” For those who honored Garcia and the other community heroes during the breakfast, the awards were a chance to give back. “When Staff Sgt. Jose Garcia came upon an accident situation, he knew what to do and he didn’t hesitate to act,” said Barbara Hostetler, the director of regional clinical services for UnitedHealthcare Military & Veterans, formerly known as the TRICARE West Region.

“Even though he had just finished a 24-hour shift, he went above and beyond to save the lives of those people involved in this accident.” Although Garcia is grateful for the award, he is modest about his actions during the accident, especially after meeting the other heroes who were recognized. “By far, I think that what I did was nowhere near what they did,” said Garcia, whose three deployments have given him opportunities to practice lifesaving skills. “I train and do this for a living. They are just everyday people putting their lives at risk. Those guys deserve it way more than I do.” Garcia also maintains that anyone would have done what he did if they saw the accident. “It’s just one of those things -- I still believe that everyone has it in them to do the right thing,” he said. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Written Sept. 12, 2014 By: Army Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division

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