It was during a well-deserved day off when three Soldiers participating in the Army modernization exercise called Project Convergence saw the driver of the truck in front of them drift out of his lane and collide head-on with a truck traveling the opposite direction on Highway 95 near Yuma, Arizona.
Ignoring any potential danger to themselves, Maj. Bryce Asagi, Chief Warrant Officer Four Jeremy Sager and Sgt. 1st Class Jarvis Smith immediately stopped their vehicle and assessed the situation. They quickly secured the site, rendered aid, and attempted to extract and stabilize the victims trapped inside one of the vehicles while awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel.
There were seven people in the two trucks that collided on September 19. One person died, and several were hospitalized with severe injuries.
With two vehicles hitting head-on at highway speed, the wreck was terrible. Without the quick actions of the three Soldiers, the outcome could easily have been worse, said Lt. Col. Marvin Switzer, who was one of the leaders of Joint Modernization Command’s Multi-Domain Operations Group Sensor-to-Shooter team at Project Convergence 20.
The three Soldiers were part of that team during the six-week-long modernization exercise that took place in August and September at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona.
“It’s a heavily trafficked road, so they put themselves at risk, but they jumped out and stopped traffic, and in the confusion, got everything sorted out,” Switzer said. “They called medical personnel, acted like Soldiers and took control of the situation. They were leaders on the ground. Some of the people in the vehicles were panicking, and they were able to get them out of the vehicles and calm them and the situation down. Then when the medical personnel arrived, they had a good hand-off.”
Maj. Asagi, the systems and applications branch chief in JMC’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control Division, said despite the shocking scene, the three of them stayed calm and worked to save lives.
“It was chaos,” Asagi said. “From the time we stopped to when the medical personnel arrived, it felt like an eternity. It probably was only 15 or 20 minutes, but the airbags were smoking, fluids were leaking from the trucks. Our first thought was to get them out of the vehicles if we could.”
Though the three Soldiers were able to get most of the passengers out of the vehicles, some remained stuck until emergency personnel arrived with Jaws of Life to free them. Chief Warrant Officer Four Sager, an all-source intelligence technician at Fort Huachuca (Az), said it was a horrible accident scene that required them to remain level-headed.
“It was undeniably a traumatic event that required the three of us to, without hesitation, establish a presence, maintain a relative calm, and put into practice first responder training to preserve human life,” Sager said. “While I am appreciative of the accolades and recognition from Army Senior Leaders, my heart goes out to the families affected.”
For their actions on Sept. 19, Asagi, Sager and Sgt. 1st Class Smith, a network planner in JMC’s Joint All-Domain Command and Control Division, were awarded the Army Commendation Medal.
Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville awarded the three Soldiers during the final demonstration day for Project Convergence on Sept. 23. The gathered Army senior leaders, appreciative of the selfless sacrifice displayed by the Soldiers, gave them a standing ovation.