Reserve Citizen Airman receives civilian valor award

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joel McCullough and Amanda Dick
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 88th Air Base Wing presented Lt. Chad Engman, 788th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, with a Command Civilian Award for Valor during a ceremony May 10.

Engman is a master sergeant assigned to the 445th CES as a traditional Air Force reservist.

The valor award is given to an Air Force civilian employee who demonstrates courage or competence in assisting others in an emergency.

In this instance, Engman and four of his fellow civilian crew members received the valor award for their heroic acts March 23, 2022, while another member of the team received a Civilian Achievement Award for his expert command of the situation.

“I am proud to receive the award,” Engman said. “Overall though, it felt like just another day on the job in the fire house. Everyone on the scene was just doing their jobs.”

“This award truly reflects his ability not only within the civilian side of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base but what he contributes to the Air Force Reserve Command as a firefighter as well,” said Chief Master Sgt. Chad Lifer, 445th CES fire emergency services fire chief. “He’s definitely a selfless individual who does his job well and understands the importance of having the courage to be able to do that.”

During the ceremony, Maj. Nathan Thomsen, 788th CES commander, thanked everyone in attendance for honoring “the bravery, heroism and commitment to duty” of the firefighters.

Engman said his unit was responding to assist and provide mutual aid to the Beavercreek Fire Department for a house fire that occurred in Fairborn, Ohio.

The fire was started by a 44-year-old disabled veteran who wished to cause harm to himself and barricaded himself within the home, blocking the route to where he was located in the basement.

They responded at 11:30 p.m. when the local crew began running low on oxygen.

Thomsen said during the ceremony that when the Wright-Patt crew arrived on scene, they were assigned to the rapid intervention team to rescue the Beavercreek crew and the veteran, who had changed his mind about wanting to live.

Barriers, such as broken glass and debris, slowed the local crew enough that they had started running out of oxygen by the time they found the veteran.

Engman explained that when they found the Beavercreek team their low-oxygen alarms were ringing.

At this point, Thomsen said the Beavercreek team had to evacuate and the WPAFB team became the primary rescue team with no backup.

They faced zero visibility due to the time of night, a narrow stairwell and a 90-degree turn at the stair landing as they worked to get the veteran safely out of the home.

“We have a great crew,” Engman said. “I am proud of our crew and their quick responses to the situation. They were all on top of their games and had the equipment that was needed ready to go.”

Once outside the man was resuscitated from inhaling so much smoke and lived to fight another day.

“I feel good about the fact that we were able to save a fellow veteran,” Engman explained. “I am glad we got him out.”