Service Members Save Local Family from Burning Building
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – Soldiers and Airmen rescued three children and their mother as the family made a dramatic leap from the fourth floor of a burning building in the Songtan shopping district, April 29, 2016.
Master Sgt. Michael Henry, brigade sustainment noncommissioned officer in charge and 1st Sgt. Melanie Scott, both with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, along with Airmen from 51st Fighter Wing here, and Eighth Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, were instrumental in saving the lives of a local family.
At approximately 6:20 p.m., Friday, Scott, a native of Grosse Ile, Michigan, and Henry, a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, were visiting the shopping district when they saw smoke billowing from the Crown Hotel and then heard screaming.
“We saw a lady shimmying down the side of the building and realized there was a woman holding a baby out of the window several floors up,” Scott said. “The next thing I know we were both holding blankets to catch babies as a woman dropped them out of a window.”
Among the U.S. service members were Korean citizens who not only aided in the rescue but called emergency services.
“After I called 911, I helped hold the blanket for all three of the kids and their mother,” said Jung Min Lee, son of a local business owner. “The first little girl didn’t land so well which made me scared and worried about not being able to catch the other babies. I was very impressed by the courageous U.S. military members who helped with the rescue.”
A couple of days after the incident, the children’s father and some of the Soldiers and Airmen visited the site of the fire.
The father, Prince Enyioko, expressed his gratitude to the service members who reacted so quickly.
“I really appreciate what happened that very day. I don’t know how I can explain my thanks,” Enyioko said. “Without them I don’t know what I would do – I am so grateful for the wisdom of the military men and women.”
Emotionally, Enyioko recounted what he witnessed just a couple evenings earlier.
“My wife was with the children and I was on my way home when I first saw the fire,” Enyioko said. “I tried to help my family but I couldn’t. I was so surprised to see people gathering here to rescue my family especially the military. I felt so helpless.”
Many people may think they know how to respond in an emergency situation but military training provides Soldiers and Airmen with the confidence to react when others might hesitate.
“We had no idea what could have happened. The building could have blown up next to us,” Scott said. “All I needed was to look at the Army Values. They all apply to this situation especially selfless service and courage. Those values give you everything you need to put yourself in harm’s way to help somebody else.”
Enyioko said his wife, Precious, did sustain some injuries but his children ages 7 months, 3 and 4-years-old, all seem to be doing well.
“It was so difficult to drop my children,” Precious Enyioko said. “It was so dark in the room and the kids were coughing and crying. When I saw the people gathering with the blanket, I could see it was military members, I thanked my God.”
Ms. Enyioko got a chance to thank the service members personally for their quick thinking and selfless act as the Airmen and Soldiers visited her at the home of a friend in Songtan.
“The military is so wonderful. I don’t even know what I would have done that day. I am so thankful to the Lord that they are here in Korea,” Precious Enyioko said. “Today I am living and I can tell my story. Me and my husband and my kids, we are so proud of the U.S. military.”