COLUMBUS AIR FORCE ABSE, Miss. --
What does a typical Sunday hold for an Airman? Wake-up, eat breakfast, drive to a friend’s house, and save a family of three from a vehicle wreck? This is not TV, that’s how two Team BLAZE Airmen spent their Sunday evening.
Senior Airman Ramon Curtis, 14th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster wasn’t expecting much to happen that July 24, but potentially fatal incident changed that.
“I was on my motorcycle heading toward the gate and I saw a car coming out of Land Road probably pushing excess speed so I slowed down,” Curtis said. “As I passed by I saw his vehicle flip over. So I turned around. As soon as I got there, the car was smoking and laying on its side.”
As he got closer despite both his bike running and his helmet on he could hear the man screaming.
“I could hear him yelling for help so I jumped off my bike and ran up to pull him out,” Curtis said. “He was bloody. I pulled him out of his car and laid him down.”
As Curtis was removing the man from the vehicle, 2nd Lt. Christopher Kowalski, 14th Student Squadron student pilot, was exiting the main gate.
“I was leaving base on my way to a buddy’s house, and I looked to the right [down Land Road] and I saw there was a car perpendicular to the road on its side,” Kowalski said. “I pulled off the road and that is when I saw Airman Curtis already in the process of helping the gentleman.”
During the incident, Curtis recalled thinking about the safety of the individual and his daughters who were in the back seat of the toppled vehicle.
“I got to get this dude out, that’s all I could think of was I got to get him out. I just kept telling him, everything is going to be alright, it’s going to be ok,” Curtis said. “I just wanted to make sure everybody was ok. I can’t let anything bad happen to these kids. I have kids of my own so I think my fatherly instincts took over. I‘m going to do whatever I can to get these kids out.”
Kowalski helped the daughters after pulling over to the side of the road noting the vehicle was also leaking fuel.
“I heard the two little girls. I ran over there and started helping one of them out,” Kowalski said.
After the eldest daughter was helped the youngest was still in trouble stuck in the car seat. The Airmen decided to go through the trunk space.
“At that point in time we got the trunk open,” Kowalski said. “I went into the trunk and pulled everything out and unbuckled the second daughter from the car seat and handed her up through the passenger side window to Airman Curtis.”
Curtis credited his Air Force training for allowing him the knowledge of what to do.
“All my deployment training like Self Aid and Buddy Care stuff and proper carries; it all definitely paid off,” Curtis said. “We attempted to put a tourniquet on his arm because his hand was pretty messed up.”
Curtis and Kowalski’s instincts kicked in to help the injured as best as possible before EMS showed up on the scene.
“You see someone in trouble, you go help them. You don’t just drive by; try and help out and do the best you can,” Kowalski said. “Airman Curtis was definitely on his game, he was a good guy to work with. He was the first one there. He stayed calm and collected and did a great job. We were on the same wavelength, we had the same priorities and we got everything accomplished in a safe and effective manner.”
Both Airmen worked together to accomplish this feat but to them it felt unreal.
“I couldn’t believe what I just did. It’s still kind of surreal, I actually helped save somebody’s life,” Curtis said. “I honestly don’t know where all the strength came from to curl a grown man out of a SUV. It doesn’t seem real to me almost like an outer body experience. I wasn’t doing it to be a hero I was doing what I thought was right.”
The efforts of upholding their core values turned them into model citizens for the Columbus community. For Curtis and Kowalski, it was not just another typical Sunday.