An Army Ranger at Joint Base Lewis-McChord gets a medal for heroism Friday that has nothing to do with his service in combat. Still, what he encountered last April surely looked like a war zone.
Two pressure-cooker bombs rocked the Boston Marathon near the finish line. There were wounded people lying in the street, some had lost body parts.
Sgt. Paul Cusack, with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment had just finished the 26.2 mile race. Instead of finding safety, he ran toward the trouble.
"He was right there at the scene, immediately after the blast," said Joseph Piek, JBLM spokesman. "He, himself, ran into the blast area, not knowing whether there were going to be secondary blasts."
Sgt. Cusack found several people lying in the street and on the sidewalk at the second explosion site.
"And he immediately started helping some of the victims, he assessed and triaged their injuries and evacuated people from the immediate scene as quickly as he possibly could," said Piek.
For his heroic actions, the Army will award Sgt. Cusack a Soldier's Medal at a ceremony at JBLM.
"That is awarded to members of the armed forces [who] distinguish themselves by heroism, but in an event that doesn't involve conflict with an actual enemy," Piek explained.
The award dates to 1926 and recipients include Colin Powell, who served in the Vietnam War. In 2001, the U.S. Army awarded 28 Soldiers Medals to military personnel following the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.
"Over my career in the Army, I have known a number of soldiers who have been recognized with the soldier's medal and they jumped right in at the risk of their own life in order to save somebody else, including soldiers who have pulled people from burnings cars or rescued people from an overturned boat," recalled Piek. He emphasized that the soldiers' actions must involve voluntary risk of life.
The public is invited when Cusack and other medal winners from the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment will receive their awards at the Evergreen Theatre at JBLM at 6 p.m.