169th EN BN fire instructor rescues victims in car accident

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Abbey Rieves
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs


Help! Please help me! AAAAHHHHHH! A man’s voice screamed.

A chaos of exploded tires, shredded metal, and shattered glass piled the on-ramp to the 306 Loop, in San Angelo, Texas.

On June 7, during his drive back to work from lunch, Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Perry happened upon a collision that left a truck upside down and a car smashed.

The 169th Engineer Battalion fire protection instructor’s training and experience shifted into automatic overdrive, feeling a compelling need to pull over to the side of the road and provide assistance.

“I didn’t see fire emergency services on scene,” he recalled. “My first instinct was, ‘I need to help these people'.”

Among the first on the scene, Perry ran to the car. Crushed like a can, he was thankful the door opened without complications. After escorting the victim out of the car, he and a few others helped administer first aid.

Perry and a fellow 169th EN BN instructor, Staff Sgt. Victor Valentinsamon, rescued the next victim stuck inside the flipped truck. They administered first aid and provided scene control until local emergency services arrived. Two 17th Training Wing officer intelligence course students also assisted Perry and Valentinsamon.

“This experience really humbles me,” said Perry. “I’m thankful for my training and to have been in the right place at the right time.”

Perry is an instructor at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy. He teaches fundamental and lifesaving rescue techniques there, like he administered during the crash.

“Standard training just kicked in,” Perry said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. “It just reinforces some of the lessons I teach my students.”
On behalf of the DoD, Perry and 122 additional multi-service instructors train over 2,800 students annually.

On Oct. 27, Perry and Valentinsamon were awarded the Army Commendation Medal for their heroism.