On Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas, three 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division soldiers received lifesaving awards from the local sheriff and Army Achievement Medals for saving the life of a fellow soldier on the verge of suicide in June.
The night of June 19, Bell County (Texas) Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sgt. C.M. Wilcox and patrol Deputy Craig Bode got a call about a service member threatening to take his life, according to the sheriff’s report.
The deputies had gotten the call because the suicidal soldier told one of the NCOs in his unit that he was headed to Chalk Ridge Falls, Bell County, Texas and was “going to jump” and was “done with life,” according to the sheriff’s report.
The soldier was intoxicated and, deputies learned, had previously made similar threats but had not acted on those threats, according to the report.
An Army Corps of Engineer ranger told deputies that she’d seen a dark SUV near the Stillhouse Dam Tower structure at Chalk Ridge Falls.
A railed walkway near the tower stands 100 feet over the falls.
Staff Sgt. Stephen Gulczynski had arrived at the scene and Gulczynski told the deputies he knew the soldier and asked if he could talk with him.
The soldier was on his mobile phone, talking with someone while Gulczynski and the deputies were trying to get him to back away from the edge.
That’s about the time that Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Ketch and Sgt. Corey Clark arrived. Both also knew the soldier.
As they all continued to try to talk the soldier down he would ask for cigarettes and walk away from the railing to get a cigarette from his fellow soldiers.
Clark got along the railing and grabbed the soldier’s right arm. Gulczynski “rushed forward” and put the soldier in a bear hug to keep him from falling.
The deputy jumped in, grabbing the soldier’s right arm as well.
The men then pulled the soldier back from the railing and the deputies put him in restraints.
“It is my opinion that the individuals involved in this incident demonstrated an unmatched amount of empathy and concern for their fellow soldier in crisis,” Wilcox said at the Thursday ceremony. “Their efforts and quick actions contributed to the successful outcome of the incident and help avert a tragic situation.
And the trio got their share of kudos from their command as well.
Sgt. Maj. Jerry A. Long said at the Thursday ceremony that the three soldiers “answered the call for a fellow soldier in need” just as the Army attempts to instill that kind of camaraderie and bravery.
“They saved their teammate, even while putting their own lives in peril…they had built so much trust within their team and the family members within their sphere of influence, that when things went wrong with one of their teammates, the family knew who to call,” he said.
Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.