MacDill Airman displays exemplary courage

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley Perdue
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

On the night of Jan. 20, 2019, in Tampa, Florida, an out of control vehicle erupted into flames after colliding with two parked vehicles.

One MacDill Airman saw it all.

“My body and mind jumped into action when I witnessed the car ricochet,” stated Master Sgt. Nathaniel Violette, the red production superintendent with the 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “When the impact happened, a fireball erupted and engulfed the front of the vehicle.”

Considering the intensity of the heat, Violette positioned his vehicle across the road, hazards on, to block traffic from getting close to the accident. After signaling nearby witnesses to call 911 and search for a fire extinguisher, Violette realized the driver was not responding or moving and was trapped inside the flaming vehicle.

“I was deflating airbags and found someone trapped,” said Violette. “Once I got him seated to where I could stabilize him, I was able to pull him out through the window as the door was not opening and the glass was already broken.”

Violette carried the driver away from the scene and began self-aid buddy care.

“Once I got him about 30 feet away from the fire, I laid him down, assessed injuries and relayed all information to the 911 dispatch operator,” said Violette.

As the fire continued to grow, Violette instructed an improvised four-person carry to get the driver to a safer location.

“MSgt Violette’s quick thinking and prompt action not only minimized possible danger to all involved at the scene, but also provided the necessary distance for the Fire Department to battle the blaze and the paramedics to take over emergency care actions,” said Col. Steven Snelson, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander. “This exemplary courage and heroism reflects the core values that we instill in our Airmen every day.”

For Violette’s courage, he was presented the Airman’s Medal, awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves through a heroic act that involves voluntary risk of life in conditions other than those affiliated with conflict of an armed enemy of the United States.

“It’s a good feeling of accomplishment after this is all said and done,” said Violette. “No one was badly injured, everyone that responded was able to walk away and a life was saved.”