Sgt. Jeffrey Rose was on Fort Bragg driving to physical training on a rainy December morning in 2016 when he watched a Humvee smash into the vehicle turning in front of him.
Rose’s vehicle was caught in the backlash, but once it came to a stop, he jumped out to help.
For his actions following the Dec. 5 crash, Rose was awarded the Soldier’s Medal during a ceremony Friday at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
“The vehicle in front of me went to turn left onto the airfield at the same time an up-armored Humvee was driving down the road, and the Humvee ran head-on into the other soldier’s car,” Rose, an AH-64 Apache mechanic with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, told Army Times. “Visibility was bad, and I think the guy probably thought the Humvee was turning right onto the airfield. It looked like that as well from my perspective.”
Rose noticed the crash caused the other vehicle’s engine block to smash in, and there was a small fire starting beneath it.
He went to check on the driver of the vehicle and found the door was unlocked.
“As soon as I opened it, my combat lifesaver training kicked in right away,” said Rose, who checked the other soldier’s responsiveness, pulse and breathing.
The driver was alive but unconscious, and the crushed engine block was pushed into the steering column, pinning the driver’s legs.
The fire began to engulf the engine block, and Rose knew he needed to get the driver out of the car before the rest of it caught fire.
Another soldier helped Rose pull the driver’s feet out of the car so Rose could pick up the rest of the driver’s body, and they carried him to the side of the road.
The driver regained consciousness as the soldiers waited for emergency services to arrive.
Luckily, the fire department was right next to them on the airfield, so it didn’t take long.
The driver was taken to the hospital where he recovered, Rose said.
“[The driver] thought he was still in bed at home sleeping,” Rose added. “I think he was still pretty much in shock.”
Rose said time actually seemed to slow down when the crash was about to happen.
“As soon as I saw the Humvee coming and I saw the car turning at the same time, I knew something bad was about to happen,” he said.
It was difficult to brake, he said, because the roads were slick from the rain.
“Once cars were stopped and everything was done, I never thought I’d be able to do something like that,” Rose said. “You never know what you’re truly capable of until you’re in the situation.”
The Humvee was able to drive away from the accident, he said, but the other soldier’s car didn’t fare as well.
“There was no way of saving that car,” Rose said.
When Rose found out he was receiving the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest peacetime award for valor, he said he was “super ecstatic.”
He immediately called his parents, both Marine Corps veterans, to tell them.
“I initially told my chain of command I didn’t want [the award],” he said. “Because I’d want someone to do the same for me” if he were in that situation.