Wednesday Warfighter: TSgt. David Perez

On November 11, 2011, Technical Sergeant David Perez was the convoy commander for a mission to Kalsu Air Base, Iraq. The convoy had proceeded north past a checkpoint on Main Supply Route Tampa, when the convoy witnessed a horrific, high-speed, head-on collision involving two Iraqi vehicles, each filled with passengers. Both vehicles sustained major damage and burst into flames.

Sergeant Perez quickly directed the convoy to halt. After a quick visual inspection of the surrounding area to ensure the safety and security of his team, he directed them to dismount and render aid. Sergeant Perez and several soldiers feverishly fought to extinguish the blaze and rescue survivors. After several minutes, they succeeded in putting out the fire and pulled four Iraqi citizens, including two children, to safety. Sergeant Perez and his team immediately rendered first aid to the survivors and continued to extract the bodies of those fatally wounded in the wreckage. As a result of the crash and subsequent fire, 12 Iraqi citizens perished.

Shortly after the crash, Iraqi police and a medical team arrived on scene and Sergeant Perez turned over control to their authority. As he did so, Sergeant Perez noticed that a large crowd was gathering around his men, who were still helping the injured and providing security for the Iraqi police and the convoy. The crowd, while originally concerned and passive, appeared to become increasingly hostile. Sergeant Perez observed several people from the crowd retrieving items from their vehicles and shouting. Recognizing the heightened tensions and potential for violence, he rallied his men and directed them to remount and continue their mission.

Sergeant Perez’s composure and quick actions during this intense and dangerous situation ultimately saved four lives without compromising the safety or security of his Airmen. For his actions, he was awarded the Bronze Star.

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