Airman receives Tyndall medal for heroic act

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Veronica McMahon
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A 53d Wing member was awarded the Tyndall Airman's Medal for non-combative heroic actions in a surprise ceremony here Friday. 

Airman 1st Class Keith Johnson, 81st Range Control Squadron weapons director technician, received the award for voluntarily risking his own life to save a couple from a burning car moments before it exploded. 

Traveling through Madison County, Fla., on Oct. 9, 2006, Airman Johnson responded to a vehicle accident that occurred in front of him on Interstate 10. 

Moments after he reached the vehicle, it ignited in flames. 

"We watched the car run right off the road going very fast," said Airman Johnson. "We pulled over and found the car in a tree. I was the first to notice it was on fire, and I thought the victims were dead." 

Airman Johnson and another Airman pried the driver's door open and pulled him to safety. They then returned back to the vehicle to pull away the passenger right before the vehicle exploded. 

"I just did what anyone else would have done," he said. "There was no hesitation. I would hope somebody would do the same for me." 

In order to receive the Airman's Medal, the degree of heroism must be above the call of duty and at the risk of one's own life, setting the individual apart from his or her fellow servicemembers. 

"Receiving the medal says a lot about him," said Master Sgt. Charles Kebart, 81st RCS operations superintendent. "He put his life on the line for someone else (people) he didn't even know, for strangers. He could have been seriously injured or killed. We are all very proud of him here," he said. 

Airman Johnson was submitted for the award, which requires final approval by the Secretary of the Air Force, January 2007. 

The medal carries five points toward the Weighted Airman Promoted System testing.
When Airman Johnson is up for promotion the medal, which carries five points toward the Weighted Airman Promoted System testing, will benefit him greatly, said Sergeant Kebart. He will also be able to display the ribbon on his dress blues, he added. 

Airman Johnson was unaware he was going to receive the award and was surprised to see everyone gathered in the ceremony room. 

"I was wondering why all these people were here," he said. "I knew the award was submitted but that was roughly 13 months ago." 

Airman Johnson was sitting alongside the rest of his coworkers when Lt. Col. Barbara Omstead, 81st RCS commander, called him to the stage. 

"This is the first time in my career I have seen anyone presented with the Airman's Medal," said Colonel Omstead. "This is absolutely a phenomenal accomplishment."
Airman Johnson's surprise gave way to pride once he realized the reason for the ceremony. 

"This is the proudest moment in my life, and the highest honor I've ever gotten," said Airman Johnson.