Fort Drum sergeant who saved passengers from flaming bus named Soldier of the Year
Syracuse.com: Fort Drum, NY –Army Staff Sgt. Jacob J. Perkins, the Fort Drum soldier who saved passengers from a burning bus on the New York State Thruway in July 2011, has been named soldier of the year by the USO.
Perkins, 29, will be honored at the USO’s annual gala on Nov. 2 in Washington D.C. He serves with C Troop 1-89 Calvary, and has served in Iraq.
A bus carrying Canadian tourists had pulled over to the eastbound side of the Thruway near the Junius Ponds rest stop because it was having problems in the early morning of July 22. As it pulled back onto the Thruway, the bus was rear ended by a tractor trailer carrying bearings. The truck driver died on impact, and the bus carrying 53 people burst into flames.
At about the same time, Perkins was beginning a couple of weeks leave and was driving his truck westbound at the beginning of a long drive to his home in Mountain Grove, Mo.
He parked the truck, sprinted across the median and several lanes of traffic, and ran into the burning bus to look for stranded passengers. Perkins checked every seat for survivors. He rescued William Blair, who had a broken back and a torn calf, off the bus. When Blair became separated from his wife and daughter, Perkins drove the women from Rochester to Syracuse, staying with them at Upstate University Hospital until family arrived from Canada. Perkins then continued his trip to Missouri.
Perkins was honored in December with the prestigious Soldier’s Medal. The medal is awarded to an Army member who distinguishes themselves by heroism not involving conflict with the enemy, according to the Army. The medal ranks just above a Bronze Star.
What a selfless man and a true hero!