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NEWS | Feb. 26, 2024

Heroic Airman Receives Vanguard Award for Life-Saving Actions

By Maj. Jennifer Gerhardt, 188th Wing

FORT SMITH, Ark. – In a remarkable display of courage and quick thinking, Master Sgt. Greggorey Brewer, a readiness and emergency manager with the 188th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), has been honored with the prestigious Vanguard Award for his heroic actions that saved a life during a dramatic early morning rescue on June 11, 2023.

The Vanguard Award, sponsored by the Non-Commissioned Officer Association (NCOA), is a highly esteemed recognition highlighting the exceptional bravery and selflessness of enlisted members whose actions result in the saving of life or the prevention of serious injury.

Maj. Gen. Jonathan M. Stubbs, the Arkansas National Guard Adjutant General, presented the award to Master Sgt. Brewer at the Enlisted Association of Arkansas National Guard and the National Guard Association of Arkansas (AANG/NGAA) Joint State conference on Feb. 24 to acknowledge his extraordinary acts of heroism.

The incident unfolded as Brewer was en route to work in the early morning hours when he spotted a car that careened off the road, crashing and wrapping around a tree. “It was just natural instinct to stop,” said Brewer. “My initial thoughts were that if it were one of my loved ones in the accident, I would want someone to stop. Secondly, my thought was to act fast and stop bleeding as quickly as possible while also trying to get emergency services on the way. Minutes determine life or death in situations like this.”

Drawing upon his extensive military training, specifically his Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) expertise, Brewer wasted no time springing into action.

One individual was severely injured and bleeding profusely from a critical brachial artery wound. Undeterred, Brewer dashed back to his vehicle, retrieving a tourniquet from his emergency medical kit. Returning to the scene, he applied the tourniquet, staunching the life-threatening bleed while simultaneously coordinating with local emergency services.

Brewer was not alone for long. Sebastian County Emergency Manager Travis Cooper was the first person to arrive to help Brewer, which was lucky because they work together every quarter through the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC). Further demonstrating his resourcefulness and skill, Brewer commandeered equipment from emergency responders, including the Jaws of Life and a winch, to safely extract the trapped passenger from the wreckage. Once both victims were triaged and evacuated, Brewer, despite being clad in a blood-soaked uniform, still managed to arrive at work less than an hour late.

“When I found out, my immediate reaction was that I was proud of him and proud that he is part of the 188th CES,” said Lt. Col. Riley Donoho, the 188th Civil Engineer Squadron commander, echoing sentiments of pride and admiration for Brewer’s heroic actions.

Brewer’s readiness and preparedness, honed through years of service and training, proved instrumental in averting tragedy and exemplified the highest ideals of military service.

“I think Divine Intervention played a role in this one. Just the day before, I was participating in TCCC training. We went through everything from wound packing to tourniquet drills and had a simulated real-world scenario with role players,” said Brewer. “I do not believe it was a coincidence that I had just completed this training the day before the accident. I believe this training, still being fresh on my mind, enabled me to act swiftly and confidently.”

Reflecting on his preparedness, Brewer had a few words of advice.

“Stop and make a phone call to emergency and first responders,” said Brewer, who keeps two first aid kits in his vehicle. “Something is better than nothing. Don’t assume someone else will stop. Minutes, or even seconds, maybe the difference between life and death. If you don’t think you’re prepared for these types of situations, do some research and get training through your local community.”



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