Sergeant recounts how five Airmen, 'Bud' saved his life

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Bryan Scott
  • 410th Flight Test Squadron
Every once in a while, a life-changing event takes place that requires immediate action. The safety of yourself or others could depend upon the choices you make. This could happen on the battlefield, on the ball field or even on the daily drive to work. 

I must ask, are you ready? Are you ready to be a Wingman? Are you ready to take action when needed for a coworker, a friend or even a stranger? 

As you read my story, think about the actions you would take if you were on the scene. I felt compelled to write this for two reasons. I needed to express my appreciation, and I wanted to help others prepare for similar situations. 

I work at the 410th Flight Test Squadron at U.S. Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. On April 3, I was involved in a hit-and-run accident on my way to work.

I was in my car waiting for traffic to clear in a left turn lane on Avenue P. But fate had something else planned that day as I was struck head-on by an oncoming motorist. 

I am not sure how fast the driver was going, but the speed limit is 60 mph. He didn't see me and consequently did not apply his brakes when he drifted across the double yellow line. 

Needless to say, it hurt. 

However, I did not write this article to talk about my injuries or the mechanics of the accident. My story is about my six Wingmen and the actions they took. 

Six individuals came to my rescue that day. Five of those were my co-workers and one was a tow truck driver who happened to be at the accident. The tow truck driver, Brent "Bud" Baldwin, was the first on the scene and checked me to see if I was okay. 

He then went to check on the other driver, but the other driver attempted to flee on foot. I later discovered his license was suspended, so he had no desire to stick around. Bud tried to restrain him, but aided by the deployment of his driver's side airbag, the driver was able to take off across an open field. Bud put himself in danger trying to detain that individual, and for that, I thank him. Bud had just become my Wingman. 

By then, my co-workers, who were carpooling on their way to work, arrived to see this chaos unfolding before them. They recognized my 1976 blue Chevy Luv pickup truck, and right away, they knew this was a bad situation. 

I ask that you put yourself in their position as you read these next few lines. Think about your thought process and what you would do in this situation. I know I think about it every day. 

I had unfastened my seat belt and had laid down in the seat to try and breathe. The impact knocked the wind out of me and broke my sternum. Despite my in-car restraints, my face impacted the steering wheel fracturing my eye socket, causing profuse bleeding. As my co-workers walked up to my truck, they didn't know if I was alive or dead. 

You must realize that these are not just my coworkers, but my friends as well. I spend more time with them than I do with my family. It took courage to look inside that truck. They never hesitated. 

Once they realized I was breathing, there were other matters to attend to. Traffic on both sides was still coming and going. They immediately started directing traffic to stabilize the area and make it safe. The other car burst into flames about 10 feet or so from my truck. They grabbed a fire extinguisher from the tow truck and attempted to put the fire out, but it didn't work. 

One co-worker ran to the nearby lumber yard to get more fire extinguishers. In the meantime, the rest had to make a decision as to whether to move me away from the fire or not. No one knew the extent of my injuries and what further damage it would cause if I were moved. At this point, the fire was large and growing by the second. 

Everyone was in danger, but not one of those guys would leave me there alone. The other fire extinguishers arrived and another attempt to put out the fire was made. Thankfully, they were able to suppress the flames until the fire trucks arrived. 

These six guys continued to protect me until the ambulance came and transported me to the hospital. I can't express in words the emotions and heartfelt thanks I have for these coworkers, these friends, these brothers and these Wingmen. 

Never again will I take the word courage for granted. I can only hope that if I find myself in the same situation they were in, I would act as selfless and fearless as they did. I was lucky and blessed that day. It'll take me a little time to heal but I'm still in the fight. 

I would like to have this opportunity to give thanks to Master Sgt. David Ligammari, Master Sgt. Steve Dickover, Tech. Sgt. Grant Lenzen, Tech. Sgt. Bill Bell, Tech. Sgt. Rod Moore, and last but not least, Bud. I would also like to thank all of the support from the 410th FLTS. 

As with all stories, this one ends with lessons learned and questions still open. Lesson No. 1: I am here today because I wore a seat belt, and I had Wingmen close by. Lesson No. 2: Wingmen take action. A Wingman's priority may be to prevent incidences but they must be ready to elevate it to the next level when circumstances dictate. The questions I have may never be resolved, but I hope I will be a good Wingman when it is my time to act. 

So, are you ready?