No Shortage of Acts of Heroism from Military, Veterans and First Responders

route 91

By Debbie Gregory.

We often hear of heroic deeds performed by members of the military, veterans and first responders, not only when they are on the job, but also when they are in “civilian mode.”

At the Route 91 concert shooting, there were numerous acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. Eyewitness Russell Bleck said, “Thank God it was at a country concert, there were so many ex-military there. You saw these men jump into action, their training … not even in uniform. I didn’t see a single one taking cover, these guys were just running directly into the danger zone.”

Iraq war veteran Colin Donohue guided people to safety and started caring for the injured, in spite of not having any formal medical training.

Marine Austin Cox ran toward the gunfire and saved the life of a perfect stranger, Katrina Hannah, who was shot in the neck and shoulder. Austin picked her up and made a run for it – getting her safely to the hospital.

Tom McIntosh, who was severely bleeding in the back of a pickup truck, owes his life to James Lawson’s Army Reserves training as an EMT. The makeshift tourniquet on McIntosh’s leg was failing him. “I walked up there and he was actively bleeding,” Lawson said, noting that the belt was in the wrong spot. “I adjusted the belt, got it up there where it should be, tightened it down, stopped the bleeding, hung out there for 10-15 minutes and some savior in a pickup truck asked if we needed a ride. We said, ‘Yeah’ and threw them all in the bed of a pickup truck and we took off the hospital.” The move saved McIntosh’s life. “I wouldn’t have made it,” he said. “I’m very thankful that James was there to help me.”

Renee Cesario met Marine Brendan Kelly just two hours before Jason Aldean took the stage. The pair were dancing near the front of the stage when the shots began to ring out. “Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire.” In-between rounds, the pair ran for safety — with Brendan leading the way. When Renee’s family thanked Brendan for saving her life, his response? “Absolutely, that’s what we do, take care of our own and those around us. Glad I could be there for her in that crazy time.”

Marine veteran Taylor Winston commandeered a utility truck he found with the keys in it, and over the course of two trips, ferried some 30 people to the hospital. The only reason he didn’t make a third trip was because emergency crews were on scene at that point. “I think a lot of my training in the military helped me in the situation,” Winston said.  And he brushed off the title of “hero,” as heroes often do.

And on a personal note, my assistant’s daughter, Aria James, who I’ve known since she was nine years old, was at the concert with her boyfriend, Navy veteran Reed Broschart. Like many other men there, Reed’s military training kicked in, and he guided Aria to safety, physically covering her on the ground each time shots were being fired.

To these brave men, and the countless others who put personal safety aside to help others, thank you.

Thank You.


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