By Debbie Gregory.
When an Amtrak train derailed in Dupont, Washington on December 18th, Second Lt. Robert McCoy hit the brakes on his pickup truck just in time to avoid impact.
The 23-year-old Army officer from Oklahoma had only been at Joint Base Lewis-McChord for weeks, and was heading home when the tragedy occurred.
Assigned to the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, McCoy knew he needed to help.
“I remembered I had a tourniquet and a CPR mask in my truck and I grabbed those and I took off toward the accident.”
McCoy carried many of the ejected passengers out of the road to safety and then turned his attention to the people trapped inside the dangling train car.
One elderly woman was partially dangling outside the train car.
“She was kind at the end here, dangling out, but another downed rail car was right here,” McCoy said. “Her daughter kind of pulled her out backwards and I just reached under her and picked her up and put her down on some form of safe structure.”
McCoy also assisted a woman with a severely broken leg.
McCoy’s heroics inspired praise from his platoon sergeant, Hunter Williams.
Williams posted the following on his Facebook page:
“By now, many of you are aware that an Amtrak train derailed in DuPont (the city I live in), just outside the gate of Joint Base Lewis Mcchord. What you don’t know, yet anyway, is that my incoming Platoon Leader was the first bystander on scene… Without thinking twice, he immediately began pulling injured civilians out of the vehicles and the train itself…This young 2LT isn’t an experienced leader in the Army. He didn’t graduate from West Point and hasn’t been to combat. He is literally as green as they come and is fresh out of the Basic Officer Leader Course. Hell, he hasn’t even finished in-processing JBLM and our battalion yet. However, when adversity hit… he acted. THIS is the type of leader we need in the Army. These are the men (and women) you want leading your sons and daughters into combat. The ones whose fight instinct overcomes their flight instinct, regardless of the situation, and they act to ensure that people live… he’s told me over and over how excited he is for me to be his first Platoon Sergeant. What he doesn’t know though, is how proud I am for him to be my Platoon Leader. Great job, sir.”
The crash claimed the lives of three people and wounded at least 100 others.