Airman saves wingman

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Ceaira Tinsley
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

"It felt like it was the end.”

This was the only thought replaying in one Airman’s mind as he clinched his throat and gasped for air.

After several futile attempts of trying to dislodge the object, he began losing hope.

He realized the sad reality was that he wouldn’t be able to do this alone. With his airway closing, he mustered up the strength to stumble to a neighbor’s house and frantically press the doorbell.

“That’s when it hit me that if I don’t get help I’m going to die,” said Tech Sgt. Mitchell Brewington, 39th Maintenance Squadron transient alert crash and recovery section chief. “Imagine you want to breathe and can’t. Some people take it for granted because it’s typically so easy.”

As Brewington slumped over the door way wheezing and slurring his words, Staff Sgt. Richard Bailey, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron central storage section, immediately jumped into action.

Without hesitation, Bailey grabbed his keys, helped Brewington to the car and rushed to the 39th Medical Group emergency room.

“This is something that you don’t expect to happen,” said Bailey. “I didn’t waste too much time thinking. I just had to react. I can only imagine how fearful it is to need help and you don’t know who’s around. I’m thankful that I was around to help him out.”

During a critical time, he was able to remain calm and critically think to get his wingman the help he needed.

“I knew if I would have panicked or hesitated that wouldn’t have helped him,” said Bailey. “I had to stay calm. My primary focus was to get him to the emergency room as fast as possible. I couldn’t take the chance of wasting time because his life was on the line.”

Bailey proclaimed that without a clear picture of what could have been causing Brewington’s difficulty breathing, he decided getting Brewington to medical care was the best course of action.

"I (later) learned that a piece of garlic was blocking his airway,” said Bailey. “I’m glad I didn’t do the (abdominal thrusts) or anything because in his case that would have wasted time.”

While Bailey would hardly describe himself as a hero, he’s happy to have been in the right place at the right time.

“That’s the scariest feeling that I’ve ever felt and I don’t want to feel that way ever again,” said Brewington. “I really appreciate Bailey being there because he saved my life. I will never forget this guy. There is really nothing I can say that’s going express to him exactly how I feel about him being there for me. Without him I wouldn’t be here.”