Quartermaster Soldier helps a neighborhood family in their burning house
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea -- Staff Sgt. Victor Gomoimunn was driving to the Humphreys commissary with his wife on Feb. 6 when he saw a fire in a three-story villa in Dongchang-ri. Rather than pass it by he stopped to see if he could help.
When he approached the villa, Gomoimunn, from 339th Quartermaster Company, said a man ran out of the building and told him a woman and her baby were still inside, on the third floor.
Gomoimunn tried to take the stairs to the third floor but the stairwell was filled with smoke and he deemed it too risky. He looked for another way up and found a gas pipe that ran up the side of the building. Gomoimunn climbed the pipe to a third floor window and that's where he met Sun Young Helmer, the mother still in the building with her baby.
Helmer said she noticed the fire at about 4 p.m. when she said something didn't smell right. She checked the stairway and found it filled with smoke. Her neighbors had already left the building so she found herself alone with her 10-month-old baby; her husband had gone out to pick up their first son at daycare.
"Unfortunately, I didn't notice there was a fire in the building and I felt that it was too late to escape. As time went by, the smoke was coming more and more. From the main door, it was first white, then gray, and then black. It made me tremble with fear," Helmer said.
And then someone knocked on her window.
"There was Gomoimunn hanging on the window by the gas pipe. He came to protect us from the fire," she said.
Helmer said she doesn't know why Gomoimunn helped her but she appreciated it greatly.
"Even though the fire could threaten his life--the gas pipe could explode at any time--Gomoimunn was there and made us feel comfortable instead of taking care of his own life in such a dangerous situation," she said.
Gomoimunn climbed into the apartment and checked the situation. He guided Helmer and her baby to another room to wait for the firefighters and opened a window to get some fresh air.
"My plan was to wait with them and keep them comfortable until the firefighters came. If the firefighters didn't come in time, I was going to climb down carrying the woman and her baby on my back," Gomoimunn said. "But, it didn't happen so it was good."
It took almost 30 minutes for the fire department to arrive. Gomoimunn stayed with them the entire time and kept them calm in the smoke. He didn't seek a reward for doing this, he just helped them as their neighbor.
"As a Soldier, I was doing my duty at that time. I'm just really happy that the family is doing well now," Gomoimunn said.
Helmer met Gomoimunn afterward on the street and he expressed concern for her family. She said Gomoimunn asked, 'Are you okay? Do you need any help? I'm glad you guys are okay.'
Helmer continued with tearful eyes.
"Even though that incident was horrifying and traumatizing, I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to meet such a good person; I'm very glad that I know that kind of person is my neighbor in our community. I'm very proud that he is one of our Soldiers at Camp Humphreys."
Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!
Follow us on social media!