CHEYENNE – In the Air Force, two of the core values are service before self and excellence in all they do. So when Airmen 1st Class Cristopher Horton and Christian Reid came across a house fire Nov. 6 near Dix, Nebraska, while on patrol, they knew exactly how to respond.
The two response force leaders were awarded Air Force Commendation Medals on Friday for their role in fighting the house fire and getting the family to safety. Col. Damien Schlussel, commander of the 90th Security Forces Group at F.E. Warren, said the airmen’s actions embodied the Air Force’s core values.
“They just wanted to be humble about it, not realizing what they had just done – saving a lot of people’s lives,” Schlussel said.
While on their regular patrol, Horton and Reid saw a person run across the street as if something was wrong, so they got out to investigate. The two noticed a fire burning on the roof of one of the houses, and Reid directed the neighbor, who ran across the street, to call 911.
Meanwhile, the airmen knocked on the door to alert the family of four, who was unaware of the fire burning upstairs. Along with their three pets, the family was able to evacuate safely.
“We just tried to make sure everything was all right until the first responders got there,” Reid said.
When a sole volunteer firefighter from the area arrived on scene, Horton and Reid assisted in putting out the fire while the family stayed warm in the airmen’s patrol vehicle. Reid even gave the family some money out of his own pocket.
“Because we live, work and play in these communities, we feel that we are part of those communities,” Schlussel said. “We’re integrated in those communities, and we have a vested interest in the safety of those communities.”
After assisting the family, Horton and Reid went about their day as if nothing had happened. Col. Schlussel learned of the situation from the Kimball County sheriff.
“I didn’t think it was anything special,” Horton said. “I just wanted to help the family.”
For airmen of their rank, receiving a recognition like this is rare. Schlussel said the award is usually granted for four years of service, while these men were recognized for something they did over the span of about four hours. Schlussel said recognitions like this one are “for those who go above and beyond.”
Reid said receiving the medal is exciting and humbling.
Horton, from Kalkaska, Michigan, arrived at F.E. Warren in August 2018, and Reid, from Littleton, Colorado, arrived in October 2018.
Maj. Jaroslaw Zrodlowski, 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron commander, oversees Horton and Reid on a day-to-day basis. He said he wasn’t surprised at all to learn about the airmen’s actions, but was proud that they could help the family.
“I know that they would respond to something if they needed to,” Zrodlowski said. “It doesn’t really matter what happens, they’re there to help.”
He echoed Schlussel’s sentiment that the airmen embodied the values of service before self and excellence in all they do. Schlussel said their actions also reflect the entire Air Force.
“Given the opportunity and the circumstances they were put in, I think all of our airmen would react the same way,” Schlussel said.