NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Sgt. Ryan Grillo of the Tennessee National Guard was awarded the Ribbon for Valor Nov. 2 for helping rescue two women and a child stranded in their cars by rising floodwaters.
Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes, Tennessee adjutant general, pinned the ribbon on Grillo at the Volunteer Training Site in Smyrna. Grillo, an Athens native and Soldier with the 1176th Transportation Company, was cited for exceptional meritorious heroism.
On Sept. 26, 2018, while traveling to his civilian job in Athens during heavy rain, Grillo came upon a bridge prone to flooding. The water from the creek below was much higher than normal and had overtaken the bridge. Two vehicles were stuck in the rising floodwaters. Uncertain if anyone was inside, Grillo decided to drive through the swift water past the two cars in distress and managed to get to the other side of the bridge and park in a safe area. While driving past, he saw that one vehicle was still occupied by a panicking woman and the other by a mother and her small child.
He couldn’t stop for fear of getting stuck himself. Once his vehicle was parked, he set out on foot to rescue those stranded. Joined by another person who also stopped to help, they pulled all three victims out of their cars and brought them to safety. About 20 minutes later the McMinn County Rescue Squad arrived to help the victims and recover the stranded vehicles.
“Sergeant Grillo was at the right place and at the right time to help those stranded motorists, and we are all proud of him and grateful for what he did,” said Holmes. “He represents everything that is right about the Tennessee National Guard and brings great credit to himself and his family.”
Grillo’s mother, Dawn, and his brother, Sam, attended the ceremony and expressed their admiration and pride for his actions.