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Human Resources Command NCO receives Soldier’s Medal for heroism

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By MASTER SGT. BRIAN HAMILTON

HRC NCO receives Soldier’s Medal for heroism

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One Soldier at U.S. Army Human Resources Command understands the Army Values in action on a level few have.

Sergeant 1st Class Mario King received the Soldier’s Medal in the Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude Complex at Fort Knox Sept. 7 during a ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. Jason Evans, HRC commanding general, for his selfless actions on May 13.

On that fateful day, King and his wife, Sgt. Adriane King, were returning to Fort Knox from Atlanta on Interstate 75. A few yards in front of them, a tractor trailer loaded with 8,000 gallons of fuel abruptly jack knifed to avoid hitting a swerving car, rolled several times down the road and burst into flames.

Adriane, an Information Technology Specialist with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command (HRC), located at Fort Knox, immediately pulled over and Mario, an Information Technology Specialist career advisor also with HRC, ran over to see how he could help.

“The driver of the car was standing in the middle of the road so I ran up to him to see if he was alright,” Mario said. “I could tell right away that he was dazed so I helped him to the side of the road out of the way.”

As flames began to engulf the truck, Mario noticed the cab of the truck was overturned with the driver trapped inside. He left the driver of the car with another bystander and ran toward the burning vehicle to see how he could help.

“You could hear the tires of the truck exploding and the flames were getting closer and closer to the cab of the truck. I knew we had to get the driver out quick,” he said.

Adriane, who stayed off to the side saw how dangerous the situation was and yelled for Mario to hurry.

Mario and two other Samaritans tried desperately to get the driver, Burl (Doug) Bowling, out before the flames reached the cab. They attempted at first to beat the windows out of the cab with a pipe, but to no avail.

Just then, Mario noticed Bowling, who was pinned inside, began pushing down the side window.

“He said he couldn’t move his legs,” Mario said. “The flames were coming for the cab quickly so I had to take the opportunity to get him out while I could. So I just lifted him from the waist and was able to pull him out.”

Mario managed to drag Bowling about 150 feet to safety.

“Once I got him out of the truck, I just dragged him as far as I could,” he said. “I don’t know what it was, truthfully. I just had the mindset that I had to get this guy out so I said I’m going to give it a try. Thankfully it went well for everybody.”

Miraculously, both the drivers of the car and the fuel truck survived the accident and are recovering.

“As soon as Sgt. 1st Class King got me out of the truck, he moved so fast that the other people helping had to run to catch up with us,” said Bowling. “People like him are rare; not just anyone would have rushed toward a flaming tanker. I’ll appreciate him for the rest of my life.”

During the ceremony, many watched as King received the medal — the highest peacetime military award the Secretary of the Army can bestow.

“This is a great honor,” King said. “I am fourth-generation military and countless members of my family have served this country. I could never have imagined this day when I joined the Army more than 16 years ago.”

The ceremony was a testament to the Army value of selfless service displayed by Soldiers like him, said Evans.

“Sgt. 1st Class King rushed to the sound of danger, as any Soldier would have done, on or off-duty. He makes us all proud as U.S. Army Soldiers and as Americans,” Evans said. “There is no doubt that his heroism, bravery and risk to personal safety all make him worthy of this honor.”

In the end, Mario said he was grateful to be able to be in the right place at the right time and help Bowling, someone he didn’t even know.

“We live the Army values, and that one value, that one day, stood out,” Mario said. “You don’t have to know [the person]. They don’t have to be your battle buddy, your friend or even your family. If someone is in need, you step in and help them out. That’s how I live each day.”

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Photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton | HRC

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Photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton | HRC

King awarded03:

Photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton | HRC

King awarded04:

Photo by Master Sgt. Brian Hamilton | HRC

Sgt. 1st Class Mario King, information technology specialist career advisor, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, is presented the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony hosted by Maj. Gen. Jason Evans, U.S. Army Human Resources Command commanding general, in the Lt. Gen. Timothy J. Maude Complex at Fort Knox Sept. 7. The Soldier’s Medal is awarded to any person of the U.S. Armed Forces performing acts of heroism not involving conflict with an enemy. King was awarded the medal for his actions on May 13, when he risked his own safety to rescue the driver of a truck loaded with 8,000 gallons of fuel that was involved in an accident along I-75 near Louisville, Kentucky. The fuel truck had jack-knifed while trying to avoid hitting a swerving car, rolled down the interstate, and burst into flames, pinning the driver inside the overturned cab of the vehicle. King was able to free the trapped driver and drag him to safety.