“True Heroes Among Us”

A couple of Fort Riley personnel have been honored for actions they took when they came upon a crash while traveling in Western Kansas.

In recognition of their heroism while responding to the crash, Fort Riley Community Recreation Division Chief Matt Enoch and Fort Riley Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jason Poulin were recently honored. Fort Riley Garrison Commander, Col. Michael Foote, who expressed gratitude for Enoch and Poulin’s selfless actions that day, remarking that they had saved multiple lives with their courageous efforts.

July 16, 2023, Poulin, Enoch and Fort Riley Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Manley, a combat medic from the 1st Infantry Division, responded to an accident involving a 15-passenger van in Wallace County, Kansas, while returning to Fort Riley from official travel.

Enoch and Poulin sprang into action when they encountered the overturned van on U.S. Highway 40, carrying two adults and ten juveniles inside including an infant. They are credited for being instrumental in rescuing twelve individuals, including two adults and ten children.

Col. Foote expressed gratitude for Enoch and Poulin’s selfless actions that day, remarking that they had saved multiple lives with their courageous efforts. He emphasized that heroes are present among us daily and are recognized when they step forward and take action, highlighting the importance of being in the right place at the right time to make a difference.

“Their actions truly rescued the lives of their fellow American citizens on that day.” Col. Foote said.

Enoch, known for his compassion and quick thinking, said he found himself thrust into a life-changing situation after witnessing the aftermath of the accident. Despite lacking prior emergency experience, Enoch rose to the occasion, aided by the experienced leadership of Sgt. Major Poulin. He assisted in loading the injured into an ambulance, under Poulin’s mentorship to identify injuries and deliver initial care.

“I’m glad we were there. Because I know that we saved lives,” Enoch said, “Sgt. Maj. Poulin has a career worth of combat lifesaving experience and from his experience during his deployments. Then you had Sgt. 1st Class Manly, a combat medic from the 1st Inf. Div., and I mean, as terrible as that situation was how fortunate is that? That’s a miracle.”

Enoch said that this life-changing experience taught him the importance of intervening in critical situations and the significant impact of quick decision-making and medical expertise in saving lives during emergencies. Reflecting on the events of that day, Enoch said he appreciates the opportunity to have made a positive impact and witnessed firsthand the heroism and dedication exemplified by individuals like Sgt. Major Poulin and Sgt. First Class Manley. He said their actions embody the true essence of compassion and self-less service.

The citation received by Poulin credited his actions in the face of chaos. It also cited Poulin’s U.S. Army training and the actions taken as pivotal in stabilizing the situation and providing aid to the injured individuals.

“It’s like the stars aligned perfectly to guide us to that exact moment,” he said. “I believe everything happens for a reason, and I am thankful for the opportunity to do what I was trained to do when lives hung in the balance.”