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Face of Defense: Soldier’s Civilian Skills Save Afghan

By Army Maj. Sheldon Smith
Special to American Forces Press Service

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Aug. 31, 2009 – As U.S. forces take extra precautions to protect civilian lives in southern Afghanistan, an Army reservist used his civilian skills to preserve the life of a local truck driver.

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Army Master Sgt. Joseph Oswald received an Army Achievement Medal for helping to save an Afghan man whose cement truck rolled over and into a ditch Aug. 21, 2009, on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Sheldon Smith

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Army Master Sgt. Joseph Oswald, a Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan civil-military operations noncommissioned officer from Cincinnati, was returning here from an entry point Aug. 21 when he saw a concrete truck lose control and roll over into a ditch on the side of the road.

“I immediately stopped to assist the driver that was trapped inside the crushed cab of the vehicle,” Oswald said in a statement. “I removed a broken window and the windshield to gain access to the trapped driver.”

When he got to the driver, Oswald knew exactly what to do based on his extensive civilian and military training.

“I started emergency first aid treatment on the casualty to control the bleeding and prevent shock,” he said. “I contacted and provided [emergency responders] with the information they would need for the crash site and the required equipment they would need to recover the casualty.”

Oswald, a Federal Aviation Administration-certified repairman and quality assurance technician at a Cincinnati facility that services airplane engines, rendered immediate medical aid in an effort to stabilize the driver and prevent further injury.

While caring for the wounded driver, Oswald removed his uniform shirt and used it to help protect the driver from further injury from the jagged edges of broken glass. He continued to care for the driver until emergency help arrived some 20 minutes later, then remained at the scene to help direct traffic around the crash site.

As a civilian, Oswald has completed a considerable amount of first-responder training ranging from CPR and fire-fighting courses to emergency medical responder and hazardous materials response training.

As a past environmental, health and safety trainer, Oswald also has provided countless hours of training to more than a thousand fellow employees on all phases of emergency responses and safety in both the workplace and at home.

Through the military, Oswald has received even more valuable training. “On the military side, I have completed the [combat lifesaver course] and many other training classes,” he said.

Oswald was awarded an Army Achievement Medal in recognition of his efforts in saving the Afghan driver.

(Army Maj. Sheldon Smith serves with Joint Sustainment Command Afghanistan.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageWhen a cement truck lost control and rolled over Aug. 21, 2009, on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Army Master Sgt. Joseph Oswald was the first on the scene and rendered first aid to the Afghan driver. U.S. Army photo by Master Sgt. Joseph Oswald  
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