Darrick Geathers

Stripes Korea

OSAN, Korea (Nov. 19, 2014) -- Sgt. 1st Class Darrick Geathers didn't join the Army to be a hero.

His father had served in the Air Force and his mother served in the Navy. He learned about selfless service, duty and respect as a boy growing up in a values-based, military community.

After graduating from high school, Geathers decided to continue his family's legacy of military service.

He didn't raise his right hand and swear to interrupt another service member's night on the town, but that is exactly what happened Oct. 17, following the Korean American Friendship Festival in downtown Songtan, South Korea.

Geathers said other Service members should be prepared to do the same.

"I was driving up to my apartment complex when I noticed a man hunched over by the entrance," Geathers said. "It was night time and I couldn't really see much. I thought maybe he was drunk or had gotten sick, but I called out to him just to check and see if he was okay."

As Geathers walked up to the entrance, he noticed the man was on his knees attempting to push the key pad to open the front door.

"That's when I noticed the pool of blood under him, and that it was all coming from a very serious gash to his head," Geathers said.

Geathers recalls that there wasn't much thinking after that, he did what he had trained to do in the Army and what he had done before as a deployed Soldier.

He took his shirt off to apply direct pressure to the man's head, but because it took both of his hands Geathers was unable to call for an ambulance.

He yelled for help.

"There was another man walking down the road and when he heard me, he came running," said Geathers. "We dialed 1-1-9 for the Korean emergency responders, but there was a barrier in communication. It must've been around an hour by the time they arrived."

Rescued moments before losing consciousness and after a month of recuperation, the Service member returned to work.

The airman assigned to the 51st Operations Support Squadron is lucky to be alive, his commander says.

Geathers' quick action saved a life that day, he said.

"The Soldier standing before you did absolutely the right thing," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jason Jensen. "It may not be comfortable checking on someone you don't know, that's why we've got the buddy system. But not everyone out there has someone by their side all night and that's why we've got to step up, like Sgt. 1st Class Geathers did that night."

"There's nothing wrong with asking someone if they're okay," he said. "The only thing wrong is assuming that someone else will do it [assuming] that it's not your responsibility."

After addressing Geathers and his unit, Jensen awarded Geathers with a coin of excellence.

Geathers said he hopes to meet with the airman again once he has fully recovered.

"It doesn't matter who it was. It was a human being in need of help. I would want someone to do that for me if I needed it. Even if I didn't think I did," said Geathers.

"It doesn't take a hero; it just takes some courage to do the right thing," he said.

Editor's Note: Geathers is assigned to the 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade as a signal support specialist supervisor at Osan Air Base, South Korea.

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