OWENSBORO, Ky. -- A pair of Kentucky Guardsmen are being hailed as heroes after saving the life of an elderly man Feb. 27 in Owensboro, Ky.
Spcs. Casey Brandle and Justin Stinnett, both with the 206th Engineer Battalion, are credited with pulling 87-year-old David Hamilton from his vehicle after he lost control and drove into floodwaters, trapping him inside.
"The Army taught us Selfless Service," said Stinnett. "And what was going through my mind was how Mr. Hamilton has a family and how we each have our own... and family always comes first. I'm just thankful that we were there at the time to be able to help."
A Daviess County Sheriff Deputy reported that Hamilton lost control of his vehicle and plunged into the waters along a stretch of highway. The deputy witnessed Brandle and Stinnett "selflessly and without hesitation" jump into the water, swim to the vehicle and assist Hamilton out of the car and up the embankment where emergency personnel would arrive to care for him.
"We were on our way to the armory when we noticed the car drive off the road and into the flood water," recalled Brandle. "We stopped to see if anyone needed assistance and we saw the car was sinking and someone on the inside trying to get out, so we jumped in to help."
As the two Soldiers made it the vehicle, Stinnett applied his weight to the rear of the car to keep it from nose diving more into the water, while Brandle pulled Hamilton from the driver's side window.
"I'd say my military training helped me stay focused on what needed to be done, there was really no time to stop and think things through, we just acted," Brandle said. "I didn't think too much after hitting the water. It was just keep moving and don't stop. Afterwards it was a little surreal. I kept thinking 'did that just happen?'"
Hamilton was treated by the deputy and EMTs who noted that he sustained no serious injuries. Hamilton paid a visit to the 206th armory in Owensboro March 19 to say thank you again to Brandle and Stinnett, and to honor the new friendship with a group photo.
"I might forget what happened that day, but I'll never forget them," said Hamilton. "They are heroes. And you don't have to go to war to be a hero."
Brandle serves the 206th Forward Support Company as a wheeled vehicle mechanic and Stinnett as an allied trade specialist. Both have been in the National Guard for six years.
First Lt. Marvin Lawrence, commander of the 206th FSC also called the Soldiers' actions heroic with the type of "core morality we want for all our Soldiers in a crisis."
"Their willingness to react and engage with their first thought being to save a life, while putting themselves in harm's way is a selfless attitude that we should all strive to have," said Lawrence.
Brandle and Stinnett both remain humble for the ordeal and are thankful everyone is alive and well to commemorate the experience. Stinnett said he joined the Guard to gain a greater understanding of what he wanted out of a career as a machinist and welder. February 27 taught him a lot more.
"It's an honor to me having our actions considered heroic," Stinnett said. "But, it's one of those things that to me I feel as if anyone with a good heart would do the same. And I like to believe everyone else would have done the same."