An Irish American airman was on his way to pick up an award for his heroic acts, but before he got there, he saved the life of a baby.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kenneth O’Brien was named one of a dozen outstanding airmen of the year for his leadership, job performance, and achievements. The Japan-based special ops pararescueman saved a civilian from a burning car in South Korea, and served on President Trump’s security detail during a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He also helped lead the rescue of the junior Thai soccer players trapped in a cave, during which he saved the life of a fellow rescuer, a Thai Navy SEAL, CBS News reports.
"We're all willing to put our life on the line to help these other countries out, and we have to think, you know, if it was our children, our families, we would want people to step up and help us in the same situation," said O'Brien last year, describing what is was like be a part of the Thai soccer team rescue.
O’Brien, a native of Bunker Hill, Ind., joined the Air Force 12 years ago, leaving for basic training shortly after his high school graduation. He is now a special tactics section chief assigned to the 320th Special Tactics Squadron at Kadena Air Base in Japan, reports The Washington Post.
This dude. He’s TSgt Ken O'Brien...a pararescueman assigned to the 320 STS at Kadena. I can't decide if he's Superman...Publiée par AFSOC Commander sur Mardi 17 septembre 2019
“If someone needs to go do something dangerous, I volunteer,” he said in the Air Force interview. “If someone needs a leader, I volunteer. I happened to be in the right place at the right time, and that’s what helped me stand out because I sought out key positions or responsibilities.”
Still, the modest airman said he was “shocked” to be named as one of 12 airmen chosen for the 2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.
While flying back to the US to receive the award two weeks ago, a one-year-old on the plane lost consciousness after choking, and O’Brien leapt into action, clearing the infant’s blocked airway and performing CPR. After saving the child’s life, O’Brien checked on the baby for the rest of the flight.
“I can’t decide if he’s Superman or Mayhem (the guy on the insurance commercials),” his commander Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, joked in a Facebook post.
On his most recent heroic act, O’Brien said: “I’m thankful that the child is okay and that I was able to help when the family needed support. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.”