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Heroic actions earn Tyndall Airman the Airman's Medal

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Veronica McMahon
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Quick thinking and brave action allowed a Tyndall Airman to pull two people from a fiery car crash.  Now, those actions have earned him the prestigious Airman's Medal.

Airman 1st Class Keith Johnson received the Airman's Medal for non-combative heroic actions in a surprise ceremony here recently.

Airman Johnson, 81st Range Control Squadron weapons director technician, was traveling through Madison County, Fla., on Oct. 9, 2006, when a vehicle accident occurred in front of him on Interstate 10. 

"We watched the car run right off the road going very fast," Airman Johnson said. "We pulled over and found the car in a tree. I was the first to notice it was on fire, and I thought the victims were dead." 

Airman Johnson and another Airman pried the driver's door open and pulled him to safety. They returned and pulled the passenger to safety right before the vehicle exploded.

"I just did what anyone else would have done," he said. "There was no hesitation. I would hope somebody would do the same for me."

In order to receive the Airman's Medal, the degree of heroism must be above the call of duty and at the risk of one's own life, setting the individual apart from his or her fellow servicemembers.

"He put his life on the line for someone he didn't even know, for strangers," said Master Sgt. Charles Kebart, 81st RCS operations superintendent. "He could have been seriously injured or killed. We are all very proud of him here."

The award requires Secretary of the Air Force approval, and the process began in January 2007.

Airman Johnson was unaware he was going to receive the award and was surprised to see everyone gathered in the ceremony room.

"I was wondering why all these people were here," he said. "I knew the award was submitted but that was roughly 13 months ago."

Airman Johnson was sitting alongside the rest of his coworkers when Lt. Col. Barbara Omstead, 81st RCS commander, called him to the stage.

"This is the first time in my career I have seen anyone presented with the Airman's Medal," Colonel Omstead said. "This is absolutely a phenomenal accomplishment."

Airman Johnson's surprise gave way to pride once he realized the reason for the ceremony.

"This is the proudest moment in my life, and the highest honor I've ever gotten."
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