Army Sgt. 1stClass Mario King of Fort Knox, Ky., received the Soldiers Medal — the service’s highest peacetime award — for pulling a truck driver from his flaming overturned vehicle. The ceremony took place Sept. 7 at Fort Knox. Records show that King and his wife, Sgt. Adriane King, were traveling back to their home base from Atlanta on May 13 when they saw the tractor-trailer laden with 8,000 gallons of fuel jackknife, roll several times, and burst into flames.
The truck flipped after moving suddenly to avoid a swerving car. After making sure that the car’s driver was OK, King turned his attention toward the truck driver, Burl (Doug) Bowling, who was trapped in his vehicle — which by then had caught fire. The victim told King he could not move his legs. King and two other persons desperately tried to get Bowling out of the truck before the flames engulfed the cab. King ultimately pulled Bowling out and dragged him 150 feet to safety. Both Bowling and the driver of the car survived and are recovering.
“As soon as [Sgt. 1stClass] King got me out of the truck, he moved so fast that the other people helping had to run to catch up with us. People like him are rare. Not just anyone would have rushed toward a flaming tanker,” Bowling said. “I’ll appreciate him for the rest of my life.”