Thursday, August 23, 2007

Soldiers' Heroism and Charity in South Korea

Pfc. Russell McCanless Jr. receives flowers from the children of Seon Jae Dong Ja Buddhist Orphanage in Uijeongbu, Korea. Pfc. McCanless and Pfc. Reid Erickson donated the anonymous award money they received for rescuing two women from a fire to the orphanage.
Photo by Pvt Huh Hojin

Maj. Gen. James A. Coggin, 2nd Infantry Division commander, presents Pfc. Russell McCanless Jr., Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, Division Special Troops Battalion, with the Soldier's Medal Aug. 16 at Camp Red Cloud, Korea. Pfc. McCanless and Pfc. Reid Erickson, HHSC, DSTB, rescued an elderly woman and her physically handicapped daughter from their burning apartment.
Photo by Anthony Hawkins, Jr.

Heroism and charity seem to infuse the souls of so many in our military. I am constantly impressed by the giving nature of our men and women who have the roughest job, for little pay. I have often seen them work to earn money for charity and to give money to charity. They take time to help the people in the countries in which they serve. Their generosity seems to be boundless. When they are recognized for what they do, they are always modest and see others as doing more than they do. They do the 'right thing'. We could all learn much from them.

Meet PFC Russell McCanless Jr and PFC Reid Erickson. Stationed in South Korea, the two entered a building to check to see if anyone was in the apartment above a burning restaurant. They encountered an elderly woman who pleaded for them to help her daughter who was disabled. PFC Erickson assisted the mother and PFC McCanless carried the daughter to safety.

'They answered their call to duty," said Maj. Gen. James A Coggin, 2nd Infantry Division commander, during the award ceremony at Camp Red Cloud, Korea. "They put their lives on the line to help save the lives of others. Their personal courage proved to the world, proved to their fellow Soldiers and proved to themselves what being a Soldier is all about."

An anonymous person read their story and sent the Soldiers 600,000 won, the equivalent of about $600. They gave the money to the Seon Jae Dong Ja Buddhist Orphanage - giving back to the community in which they serve.

At the award ceremony, PFC McCanless said, "I didn't expect anything like this for one little action. There are other people who deserve it more that I do. There are people over in Iraq and Afghanistan who are doing great things and not getting recognized for it. Here I am in Korea, and I just saved a couple of people's lives. I didn't anticipate getting an award for this. It was just the right thing to do."

Thank you PFC McCanless and PFC Erickson - you are heroes.... you make us proud.

What is the Soldier's Medal? Read about it here.

1 comment:

Ron Simpson said...

I have seen this happen here in the US too. I think it may come from the ideals of "leave no man behind" that we are taught in Basic and Advanced Training. That concept is reinforced during all the training a soldier gets. It also stems from the quality of soldiers we have. Most soldiers are good people at heart and want to help whenever and wherever they can. Part of it comes from being an American. Most Americans, by nature have a generous nature and a strong sense of community.
The actions of these soldiers should be commended and recognized, as it shows the best of what Americans can be. It does not suprise me that a soldier would run into a burning building to see if anybody was needing help. I would actually be more suprised if a soldier did not.