Kunsan Airman teams to save family from fire
Stripes Korea | .
published: May 06, 2016
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Master Sgt. Daniel Raimondo was walking outside of Osan Air Base preparing to meet a friend for dinner when he noticed the smell of smoke as he walked past an alley. Heading toward the scene, Raimondo encountered a crowd of people standing under a smoke-filled apartment building.
After calling the local city fire department to determine emergency responders were on their way, he suddenly heard a scream for help and hands waving high through a clouded window a few stories up in the apartment.
Upon seeing the thick black smoke billowing from the windows, Raimondo, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management superintendent at Kunsan Air Base, and a team of other U.S. Airmen and Soldiers, knew they’d have to act prior to the fire department’s arrival or the family may not survive.
While helping the first person escape, he noticed a child being held near the window of the fourth floor. The service members joined to come up with a plan to help the family.
“I knew there was no way that this baby was going to be thrown from the window and we would just catch her,” Raimondo said. “Another individual and I ran into a blanket shop, grabbed a blanket unfolding it as we made our way back to the apartment as people formed up with us. I yelled to the woman for her to drop her baby down in the blanket, pleading with her to let go.”
One-by-one, the mother tossed each of her three young children from a fifth-story window into the blanket.
As the mother prepares to drop her first child into the blanket, bystanders gasp in fear hoping the plan to use a blanket as a net, works. Child number one lands and makes it to safety. The second child came shortly thereafter and the third and final child – the youngest of the three – came down into the blanket after some hesitation from mom. Raimondo said she held on for a few moments looking into the final child’s eyes, repeating, “I love you, I love you” and then let her child drop into the safety of the blanket.
When the children were safely on the ground, six more people joined to help save the mother. A total of ten people held the blankets waiting for the mom to jump out the window through the thick smoke from the fire, Raimondo said.
Incredibly, none of those who leapt out that window suffered life-threatening injuries. According to Raimondo, when he left the scene, the extent of the injuries to those who jumped involved some knee and back pain, along with the shock of the experience – but no major injuries.
What was planned to be a night of friends gathering together for a quiet evening and dinner turned out to be a miracle mission of fiery paths.
“I haven’t stopped thinking about that moment since,” Raimondo said. “People came together to do the right thing. The end result was positive and those lives were saved. That’s all that matters.”