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RAF MILDENHALL, England — Two airmen at RAF Mildenhall have been honored by the chief police constable of Suffolk County for their attempt to rescue four people involved in a car crash last September, according to a story in the Bury Free Press on Friday.

Senor Airman Ivan Ruiz and Senior Airman Jared Pietras, members of the 321st Special Tactics Squadron of the 352nd Special Operations Group, were awarded community service certificates by Alastair McWhirter.

Ruiz and Pietras tried to save an Air Force wife, Cortina Hamilton, and her three young children after a crash on the A1101 a few miles from the base on Sept. 26, 2003.

Ruiz was driving a car that struck Hamilton’s, sending it into a water-filled ditch. Ruiz’s car struck an electricity pylon and burst into flames. After helping his girlfriend escape the burning car, he waded into deep water to try to help the family.

Pietras, alerted to the crash by a cell phone call from Ruiz’s girlfriend, drove to the scene to help. He joined Ruiz in the water to help with resuscitation attempts on the Hamilton family members.

Their efforts were unsuccessful. Hamilton and her three children died.

Col. John Poucher, deputy commander of the 352nd SOG, told the weekly newspaper, “With complete disregard to themselves, these young airmen sought to help out where they could. I am proud to have such fine and courageous individuals in our Air Force.”

Ruiz, who has left the squadron, was quoted as saying, “I appreciate the award, but I was just doing what I could to help.”

Pietras is currently deployed to an undisclosed location.


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