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MacDill Guardsman saves life, receives Airman’s Medal

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Lenny Richoux, the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command commander, presents Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer, the Airman’s Medal at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 9, 2019. Jack was awarded the Airman’s Medal for saving a motorist after his vehicle lost control, veered of the interstate and burst into flames.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Lenny Richoux, the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command commander, presents Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer, the Airman’s Medal at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 9, 2019. Jack was awarded the Airman’s Medal for saving a motorist after his vehicle lost control, veered off the interstate and burst into flames. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer, speaks to the audience after being presented the Airman’s Medal at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 9, 2019. Jack was awarded the Airman’s Medal for saving a motorist after his vehicle lost control, veered of the interstate and burst into flames.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer, speaks to the audience after being presented the Airman’s Medal at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 9, 2019. Jack was awarded the Airman’s Medal for saving a motorist after his vehicle lost control, veered off the interstate and burst into flames. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer, speaks to the audience after being presented the Airman’s Medal at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 9, 2019. Jack was awarded the Airman’s Medal for saving a motorist after his vehicle lost control, veered off the interstate and burst into flames.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer, speaks to the audience after being presented the Airman’s Medal at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Feb. 9, 2019. Jack was awarded the Airman’s Medal for saving a motorist after his vehicle lost control, veered off the interstate and burst into flames. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Caleb Nunez)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- “It was kind of automatic how everything happened,” he said, recalling the moment he risked his life to save another. “It wasn’t a decision, it was just a reaction.”

Airman 1st Class PeeJay Jack, a 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron vehicle maintainer with the Florida Air National Guard, was awarded the Airman’s Medal by Maj. Gen. Lenny Richoux, the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command commander, during a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Feb. 9, 2019.

The Airman’s Medal is awarded to those who distinguish themselves through a heroic act involving voluntary risk of life under conditions other than those of conflict with an armed enemy of the United States.

“I feel like I did what any other human being would have done,” Jack emphasized. “God put me in a position to help a man in need so he could get back to his family.”

During his morning commute to MacDill, Jack witnessed a motor vehicle lose control and veer off the interstate at high speeds. Rushing into action, he repeatedly attempted to free the trapped victim through the broken window, when the vehicle suddenly burst into flames near the engine. It was at this time another bystander managed to pry the door open with a crowbar and Jack was finally able to free the victim without causing further bodily harm. Within 30 seconds of the extraction, the vehicle was engulfed in flames, significantly reducing the chances of survival for the driver.

“I’m just glad I was able to be there for him, whether I was receiving this medal or not,” Jack said. “This is what we do as service members; this is why we put on our uniform – to help those who are in need.”