Spc. Jerry Torres of the 209th Military Police Detachment put his life on the line May 22 to save two residents during a fire in Battle Park, located off Arrowhead Road on Fort Benning.
As a result of his efforts, Torres received a garrison commander’s coin May 23 from Col. Thomas Macdonald, Fort Benning’s garrison commander, and a Maneuver Center of Excellence commemorative token Wednesday from Maj. Gen. Robert Brown, the post commanding general.
“Myself and another patrol noticed the smoke coming up from the back of the building. We went up to the building (and) a lady was in the doorway yelling, ‘Call the fire department, call the fire department!’” Torres said. “We were trying to calm her down. Once she was calm enough to tell us there was another person in there, we heard someone in the back in one of the rooms yelling ‘help help’ while he was coughing.” After escorting 60-year-old Melody Hollis out of the building, Torres said he went back in to help 74-year-old retired Staff Sgt. Fred Pierce.
“It was an outstanding job,” said 1st Sgt. Daniel Morthland. “(Torres) did the same thing any military police officer would have probably done in his situation.”
Capt. Brian Miller, 209th Military Police Detachment commander, said Torres’ training helped him develop “muscle memory,” allowing him to react to this situation based on his surroundings and factors involved.
“He made split-second decisions in order to save not only others’ lives but his as well,” Miller said.
Torres said although the event was scary, thinking about his family and doing the right thing helped him through.
“You gotta help your friend; you just can’t stand there and do nothing,” he said.
There were no serious injuries as a result of the fire. For Torres’ actions, he is being considered for other awards.