Pfc. Wil Ledford, 19, of Grapevine, used skills and techniques he had learned just two months earlier while attending the Combat Medic School at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.
Ledford, a 2013 graduate of Southlake Carroll High School and a member of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3-124th Cavalry Regiment in Wylie, said he was in his apartment when he heard a gunshot. He went into the next room, saw his roommate looking down at his leg, and asked, "Did you shoot yourself?"
The matter-of-fact response was a somewhat casual, "Yeah."
Military training kicks in
Ledford's military training instantly kicked in, as the hollow-point round had penetrated the femoral artery in the left leg and blood came out very fast. He described it as a "garden hose shooting red Kool Aid all over the place."
He went for his medical aid bag and placed a tourniquet as high as possible on the leg. The first tourniquet did not stop the bleeding, Ledford said, so he put on a second tourniquet, which worked.
Next, "I just threw him over my shoulder and carried him to his truck," he said, referring to one of several carrying techniques taught to combat medics. He then drove his roommate to an emergency room, which was less than five minutes away.
It wasn't until about 20 minutes later that he fully realized what had just happened, Ledford said.
After several surgeries that included skin grafts and the removal of arteries from his other leg, Ledford's roommate was released from the hospital earlier this month and is expected to be able to walk again in seven to eight months.
Medical career wasn’t a goal
Although he had thought about the possibility of a career in medicine, Ledford said, it wasn't really a goal. After scoring well on military entrance tests, he added, he was given a few options and thought that "combat medics sounded the best."
Ledford said he thought he might get a chance to use his medical training in his National Guard unit, but that he never thought that he'd have to use it in his own apartment.
Army Capt. Matthew Colia, Ledford's company commander, said the soldier’s actions were extraordinary. "This situation was one that required decisive action, and Private Ledford answered the call of duty," Colia said.
Ledford, who is a mechanic at an auto repair shop in civilian life, said his military training and this experience have prompted him to apply for schooling to become a paramedic.