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Pvt. Russell McCanless Jr. (left) and Pvt. Reid Erickson of Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion, saved the lives of an elderly woman and her handicapped daughter at their home outside Camp Red Cloud, Korea, July 1. U.S. Army photos by Pfc. Amanda Merfeld
U.S. Army Pvt. Russell McCanless Jr.
U.S. Army Pvt. Reid Erickson
Soldiers Save Woman, Daughter from Fire
By Pfc. Amanda Merfeld
2nd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
UIJONGBU, South Korea, July 7, 2006 —Two Camp Red Cloud soldiers saved an elderly woman and her handicapped daughter when a sandwich shop caught fire just outside the camp's front gate July 1.

Pvt. Reid Erickson and Pvt. Russell McCanless Jr. of Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion, were first on the scene when New York Sub sandwich shop caught fire.

“We walked out of 7 Club to see whether or not I could do handstand pushups, and when I was doing them I noticed something behind us,” Erickson said. Standing and turning around, he saw smoke coming from the shop.

Rushing to the fire, they tried opening the glass door to the sandwich shop to find it hot and locked. The soldiers then sought assistance at a Korean Police booth outside the gate.

“We realized when we came back that there was an apartment upstairs and rang the buzzer,” Erickson said.

“Finally an elderly lady came downstairs and she didn’t speak English. The only thing she could say is ‘Come in! Come in!’ She was pretty frantic about it, so we ran upstairs.”

Upstairs, the elderly woman pointed toward a bedroom behind thick smoke.

“She pointed toward the bedroom and her daughter came crawling out. She was paralyzed,” Erickson said.

By the time the soldiers got both women downstairs via an external stairwell on the side of the building, the paramedics and fire department had already arrived.

Despite the danger, both soldiers put aside their fears to help others in need.

“In basic training they taught us to react to contact,” McCanless said. “Plus, I was in the Boy Scouts and they taught us to always do the right thing.”

Last Updated:
07/07/2006, Eastern Daylight Time
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