Sixteenth Air Force recently announced Senior Airman Jose Arguello-Cesar, Targeting Signals Analyst from the 17th Intelligence Squadron; 363d Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing, earned their nomination for the 2023 Non-Commissioned Officers Association Vanguard Award.
The Non-Commissioned Officer Association Vanguard Award is sponsored by the NCOA and recognizes heroic actions, on- or off-duty, of an enlisted member from each of the military services, which resulted in the saving of life or the prevention of serious injury.
Arguello-Cesar distinguished himself by heroism and demonstrated Air Force core values when he was able to save an infant from a burning apartment and initiated the safe evacuation of 30-plus personnel from the fire.
It all began during a summer evening, when Arguello-Cesar was in his apartment playing a video game with his friend.
“I was playing Call of Duty with my friend (online), when my neighbor started frantically knocking at my door,” he said. “I remember being startled at first but calming down when I saw it was my neighbor.”
Arguello-Cesar’s neighbor doesn’t speak English or Spanish, so a barrier was created between the two.
“I could immediately see a look of worry on her face as she pointed anxiously toward her apartment next door,” he said. “Before I even reached her apartment, I could already see the smoke coming out.”
When he got closer, he could barely see the inside because of all the dark smoke coming out of the entrance. His next action was asking his neighbor where her children were because he knew she had two.
“As I started to dial 9-1-1, I saw her baby on the ground and quickly went in and pulled the baby out,” Arguello-Cesar said. “I placed the baby with the mom.”
On the phone, the fire department asked Arguello-Cesar if he could tell what kind of fire it was.
“I could tell it was electrical because of the smell,” he said.
When he entered the apartment the second time, the Targeting Signals Analyst saw the wall where the electrical fire began.
“The entire wall was on fire and the appliances were melting off the wall,” he said. “After I came out, I directed the woman and helped her kids downstairs to safety.”
Arguello-Cesar raced back up to retrieve his cat and went door-to-door alerting other neighbors to exit the building.
By the time the firefighters arrived, Arguello-Cesar had helped his neighbors evacuate and get to a safe location.
“Senior Airman Arguello-Cesar’s actions not only exemplified bravery but also humility,” said Chief Master Sgt. Roderick Ledda, 17th IS senior enlisted leader. “He didn’t dwell on the potential consequences of placing himself in harm’s way because rescuing someone in need felt like the right thing to do. Definitely a virtue that resonates on what being an Airman is all about.”
Right place, right time
Months later, Arguello-Cesar found himself responding to another accident. On September 7, 2022, Arguello-Cesar was riding passenger with his girlfriend, when they noticed a car crash into a pole.
His initial thoughts were cautious because he had always been taught that when you suspect a neck or spinal injury, you should not move the person until EMS arrives.
“I didn’t see any fire, but there was a lot of smoke and the driver was choking – so I decided that it was more important to first remove her from the car,” he said.
Arguello-Cesar extracted the victim and evaluated the medical condition.
Being a prior lifeguard, Arguello-Cesar had training concerning neck and spinal injuries and everything seemed to kick into gear. He checked for injuries while speaking to 9-1-1 but didn’t notice anything.
“I simply used my hand to stabilize her head and neck to prevent further injury until EMS arrived and took over,” said Arguello-Cesar. “I was able to calm the hysterical victim and engage with first responders. The woman was able to recover fully.”
Arguello-Cesar will now compete at the MAJCOM level.
|Date Posted:||12.30.2022 15:51|
|Location:||JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, VA, US|
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