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AMC nominates MacDill Airman for NCOA Vanguard Award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Hastings
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Every year, one member from each of the armed forces is awarded with the Noncommissioned Officers Association Military Vanguard Award which recognizes members who have distinguished themselves through acts of heroism.

Air Mobility Command has selected Airman 1st Class Ricky King, 6th Communications Squadron Radio Frequency Transmission Systems technician, as this year’s award nominee.

On March 13, 2021, King responded to a traumatic car accident involving a father and his two young daughters.

King and his wife were on their way back to MacDill Air Force Base from an all-day rodeo event in Arcadia, Florida, when they witnessed a collision at a three-way intersection.

“We were probably 45 minutes into the drive when we approached the intersection,” King said. “As we came upon it, we saw a vehicle get T-boned.”

King quickly parked his car into a gas station parking lot by the intersection and asked his wife to remain in the vehicle.

“I really wasn’t thinking, my instincts just kicked in,” King said. “My first instinct was to make sure everybody was out and to make sure everybody was safe.”

King ran over to the scene of the accident where he assessed the situation. He saw the vehicle that caused the impact had minimal damage, while the vehicle that had been struck, a black SUV, was flipped over into a ditch with its engine smoking.

“It was a big SUV, and it was crushed,” King said. “The back seats were pushed up near the front seats and there were two little girls crying in the back.”

The SUV had its doors torn off and its windows busted out from the impact. The front seats were occupied by two men, one of which was the girls’ father.

The father communicated to King to get his daughters out of the vehicle. King proceeded to pull the girls out, who were trapped between the front and back seats. Shortly after, King helped free the two men in the front seats.

“I was trying to get the girls to calm down,” King said. “I ran back to the gas station to get everyone Gatorade and water.”

It was at this time that police arrived to the scene.

The police discovered that the driver of the vehicle who struck the SUV had fled the scene. They then sent a K-9 unit after the individual who was found and detained quickly. The culprit had been driving under the influence.

“This situation goes to show how important being responsible on the road is,” King said. “I don’t think this man had the intention to hurt a family the way he did, but you never know what’s going to happen when you get behind the wheel drunk.”

King attributed his timely response and confidence in a high-stress scenario to the Tactical Combat Casualty Care course during his time at Basic Military Training.

“In basic training we are taught TCCC and how to assess situations,” King said. “We were taught how to properly bandage wounds, how to check for injuries and to know when to wait for paramedics and police to do their job.”

King’s involvement in the aftermath of the car accident helped the victims in the SUV get free of the smoking vehicle and get medical treatment in a timely manner.

“I don’t believe it was really a heroic act,” King said. “It was just the right thing to do. When you come across something like that, especially as a service member, you need to set an example.”

Staff Sgt. Kristopher Barton, 6th CS Base Transmission supervisor, recognizes parallels between King’s behavior at work and his actions the day of the accident.

“His eagerness to learn, the confidence he has in himself and the confidence to try something new is why I was not surprised to hear about King’s actions at the accident,” Barton said. “He is a selfless individual and that was on full display in his response to the accident.”

King’s willingness to help the distressed victims of the collision align with the Air Force’s core value of “Service before self.”

“I know that in the moment, he never considered what may come of his actions,” Barton said. “It shows a great deal about his character that his initial response was to help those in need. While this award may not have been something he set out to get, being nominated highlights the courageous actions he took.”

King will now compete against nominees from other major commands to be selected as the member representing the U.S. Air Force for the award.