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McChord couple receives Red Cross Heroes award

62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Published: 02:43PM November 7th, 2013
McChord couple receives Red Cross Heroes award

Staff Sgt. Jason Truskowski

Staff Sgt. Angelo Figueroa, 10th AS loadmaster, accompanied by his wife, Kristine, gives his acceptance speech at the Mount Rainier Chapter Red Cross Heroes Breakfast, Oct. 23, in Tacoma.

Staff Sergeant Angelo Figueroa, 10th Airlift Squadron loadmaster and his wife, Kristine, were recognized as the Good Samaritan Award recipients at the Mount Rainier Chapter Red Cross Heroes breakfast, Oct. 23, in Tacoma.

The ceremony, in its 20th year, recognizes heroic achievements of Pierce County community members that embody the mission and principles of the American Red Cross.

At this year’s event, eight awards were distributed and the Figueroas received an award for heroic acts rendered during a traffic accident that occurred in June.

“It was one of those right place, wrong time situations,” Figueroa said. “I would hope anyone would jump in and do the same for my family.”

What started out as a date night for the Figueroa’s, quickly became a night of quick thinking and call to action.

As the couple was driving to the movies they witnessed an automobile collide with a utility pole and slide forward to a stop. Without hesitation the Figueroa’s stopped and immediately began administering first aid and care to the family involved.

Figueroa sprinted into action, having his wife call 911 as he proceeded to the scene of the accident.

The driver was found to have had a seizure, the front seat passenger was injured and there were two small children in the back seat.

Relying on training he has received in the Air Force, Figueroa said he assessed the scene and made sure the vehicle was turned off, the driver and passengers were safe and that all were out of harm’s way.

He safely pulled the driver from the car and turned her over to a nurse who had witnessed the accident and stopped to help.

Knowing the driver was safe, he went back to the car and pulled the injured passenger from the front seat and administered proper first aid.

For a third and final time, Figueroa returned to the wrecked vehicle and rescued the two children from the back seat.

“It broke my heart to hear those babies crying,” said Kristine Figueroa. “I felt like we needed to help these children out and I know it was the right thing to do.”

Figueroa turned the two children over to his wife who cared for them until help arrived. As if they were her own children, she stayed with and comforted them the entire time.

Due to the quick reaction and response of the Figueroa’s the family was saved from serious danger and all members survived.

Figueroa attributed his actions to the training he had learned in the Air Force and said he did not consider their actions as heroic but instead as doing the right thing.

“One of the core values of the Air Force is ‘Service before Self’,” said Figueroa in his acceptance speech of their award. “The American Red Cross prides itself on its service and I am glad that I was able to use one of our core values in a time of need.”

More than 500 community members, military leaders and coworkers and local dignitaries attended this year’s event.

“As we acknowledge the heroic achievements of these Pierce County community members,” said Tracy Peacock, American Red Cross Mount Rainier Chapter Executive. “We see the mission and principles of the Red Cross in action.

“These heroes reacted quickly and courageously to save a life, to prevent a tragedy, or unselfishly give of themselves for the greater good, regardless of personal risks and always without thought of reward.”

The Red Cross Heroes breakfast was founded in Tacoma in 1993 and has now grown nationwide with almost all Red Cross chapters hosting an annual Heroes event.

The Mount Rainier chapter serves the five counties of Pierce, Thurston, Mason, Lewis and Grays Harbor. Their goal is to have a strong local presence to be able to respond at a moment’s notice to a community emergency, large or small.