SYRACUSE, N.Y. – U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Joshua Carter, director of the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Operations Support Squadron’s commander’s action group, received the New York State Medal for Valor in a ceremony at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base Nov. 8. The squadron is an element of the 174th Attack Wing.
Carter, a drill-status Guardsman, was recognized for actions when he and his son responded to a car accident while on vacation.
On Sep. 1, 2022, Carter witnessed a vehicle cross two lanes of traffic and crash into a bridge abutment. Carter immediately pulled over, directed his son to call 911, ran to the car and pulled the driver out of the burning vehicle to safety. As more bystanders stopped to assist, Carter assessed the driver for head injuries and treated the victim for shock.
“It was instinctual just to pull over and help,” said Carter. “Somebody needed help clearly, and it wasn’t on me to figure out why.”
Carter, who deployed overseas to Afghanistan in 2012, credits his military training for providing him with the skills to intervene.
“Prior to deploying, I went to Combat Airman Skills Training (CAST), which was at Fort Dix, New Jersey,” said Carter. “It was a several-week course where they teach you how to treat for various injuries.”
Carter said he attended CAST during the height of the Iraq War. The training emphasized the treatment of traumatic brain injuries and car accident victims due to the threat of roadside bombs during convoy operations.
“There was no hesitation, and it wasn’t a thing I had to think about,” said Carter. “I’ve heard those stories where people say their training just kicked in, and mine did. It was actually helpful.”
Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields, the New York adjutant general, and Maj. Gen. Denise Donnell, commander of the New York Air National Guard, presented the award on behalf of New York Gov. Kathy Hochul.
“What a tremendous way to celebrate what the National Guard is all about,” said Shields. “I can’t thank you enough for the great work that you do.
“We talk all the time about how critical and how important our Soldiers, Airmen and our civilian employees are to our organization, and this just further demonstrates,” said Shields. “You’ve got a Guardsman going about their life and then actually helping someone and saving somebody’s life.”
In an earlier ceremony, Carter’s son, Aiden, was presented with the New York State Liberty Medal by New York State Sen. John W. Mannion.
“I’m thankful to be part of an organization that provided me the skills and training to be able to know what to do in this situation,” said Carter. “It came real close as another 30 seconds to a minute and I honestly don’t think he would have made it. I’m very thankful I was able to be there.“
The Medal for Valor is awarded to any member of the New York State Organized Militia who displays a conspicuous act of valor, heroism, courage or gallantry in a military or civilian capacity.