Master Sgt. Michael Huson was on his way to work at an Army recruiting center in New Jersey when he saw a tractor-trailer that was flipped onto its side.

His first thought was that the accident had happened earlier and the vehicle had been cleared off the road, but then he noticed smoke and that one of the wheels was turning. 

"I realized it must have just happened," Huson told Army Times on Friday about the October incident. 

Then-1st Sgt. Huson parked his car and discovered two people inside the cab of the truck. The driver's side door was against the ground, so Huson climbed onto the passenger side and pried that door open. Another person had stopped to help, so Huson gave him his cellphone to call 911.

With the passerby holding the door open, Huson assessed the driver and passenger, all while fuel was spewing out of the fuel tank, he said.

The female passenger looked disheveled and confused, but not badly injured. Huson hoisted her up to the door opening and got her out of the truck. The male driver, however, was lying against the driver's side window with blood covering his face.

Huson said his military training kicked in as he provided first aid to the driver, who was conscious, including trying to stop the bleeding with a spare T-shirt.

Both the driver and passenger spoke Spanish, but the other man who had stopped to help also spoke Spanish and acted as an interpreter for Huson.

He knew there was no way to hoist the injured driver through the open door, so Huson said he tried to kick out the windshield.

"I gave it everything I got, but it wasn't like you see in the movies where people just kick a window out," he said.

Luckily, the fire department arrived and cut the windshield out of the truck, allowing the driver to be removed safely.

Huson continued on to his office and was so focused on getting his work done that he didn't even realize he still had the driver's blood on his hands.

For his actions during the October incident, Huson received the Soldier's Medal on June 6. 

He told Army Times that he felt "very humbled," and that he believes anyone else would have done the same thing.

"I don't think I did anything extraordinary," he said. "It was the right thing to do."

"The driver and passenger could have been further injured or killed without the heroic actions of MSG Huson," his Soldier's Medal citation states.

According to the Army, the Soldier's Medal requires a soldier to perform a heroic act, and it's the Army's highest peacetime award for valor.

Huson has served in the Army for more than 23 years and is the senior guidance counselor at the Military Entrance Procession Station, or MEPS, in Fort Hamilton, New York.

Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at