Story and photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault
4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
An Army officer saved a man trapped in a hole by a three-ton rock in Colorado Springs, Aug. 26.
Capt. Marvin B. McNair, operations officer, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, helped save the man’s life after a granite boulder fell during excavation in McNair’s front yard to fix a water line.
McNair said he was home for lunch when he stopped to talk to the man who was in a seven-foot deep hole. The man was trying to loosen up the ground around the boulder, and as he was climbing up the ladder, the rock broke loose, pinning him between the ladder and the side of the hole.
McNair wasted no time, calling 911 and passing the phone to his wife. He then quickly jumped into the cab of the man’s track hoe — machinery McNair previously had experience driving — and used the machine’s bucket to grab the boulder and keep it from falling further onto the man.
“I knew from the size of the rock that the machine itself could not lift it,” McNair said. “I had to act because the man was being crushed. I had to quickly get the machine to provide the counter pressure to the rock to prevent further injury of the man pinned.”
Rescue crews arrived promptly, but did not have men experienced on using the track hoe. McNair was asked to assist the crews in getting the man free. The man was taken to the hospital and released that evening. McNair said the man had a few wounds, but will recover.
McNair said there was no training that could have prepared him for what happened that day, but he believes that every Soldier is rooted in Army values that allow him to act without regard to personal safety.
“Training helps, but it’s the qualities that are embedded in every Soldier to help where and whenever they can,” said McNair. “It’s just ingrained in Soldiers to do what is necessary to take care of their buddies or fellow man.”
Capt. Joshua Naillon, air defense and space management officer, 4th CAB, has worked with McNair since he arrived to the unit about three months ago.
“Capt. McNair is an overall great guy,” said Naillon. “In terms of Army values, he exemplifies the acts of selfless service. He proved that during his acts to save the man. He stayed, helped and wouldn’t leave the man until the rescue teams pulled the injured man to safety.”
For his actions, McNair received an Army Commendation Medal, Sept. 6. He said he was surprised to get an award for his deeds and that saving the man was reward enough.
“I feel that I made a big difference and the man was very appreciative,” McNair said. “I did not expect to (receive) a reward. It was a collaborative effort with the rescue crews, and we are grateful that we helped prevent the man from getting further injuries. Helping him was a reward in itself.”