‘That’s when my instincts and training kicked in’

Arizona Army National Guard Soldier draws on military training to help family escape their burning home

PFC Samuel Pineda

PFC Samuel Pineda

Army PFC Samuel Pineda, an infantryman with the 158th Infantry Battalion, was returning home one day in late August when he saw smoke billowing from the front of a neighbor’s home. As he approached the residence, he saw two young girls running back and forth near the front door in a panic.

“They told me the house was on fire and someone was inside,” said Pineda. “That’s when my training and instincts kicked in.”

Pineda immediately called 911. He saw flames growing near the front of the house so he ran to the back of the home to locate the occupants.

“As an infantryman we are trained to act calm during intense situations,” said Pineda. “I knew I had to act fast and take action. If I did not do something, people could be hurt or worse.”

Shouting through a window, Pineda made contact with the people inside and directed them to the backyard, away from the flames near the front door. From atop the backyard wall, Pineda helped a teenager climb over into a neighboring yard. The father of the children handed his 6-year-old son to Pineda, and he handed the child over to the youngster’s older brother. Pineda then helped the father over the backyard wall and led the family to safety before first responders arrived to combat the blaze.

On the day of the fire, local media reported “a mystery neighbor” helped the family escape the burning home. A witness said Pineda immediately jumped the wall surrounding the backyard to assist the family out of the house.

Pineda has been a member of the Arizona Army National Guard for two years. He attended basic combat training and infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga. The training Pineda experienced there, such as reacting to enemy contact, helps condition Soldiers to think critically and take action during high stress situations.

“I’m just glad I was in the right place at the right time,” Pineda said. “Once the police arrived, I did not want to be in the way, so I provided my contact information to the officer and left. I feel sad that the family’s home was damaged but happy that no one was hurt.”

The local fire department recently held a ceremony to recognize Pineda for his valiant efforts that summer day.

If you’ve got the instincts of a hero and want the training the National Guard has to offer, visit our jobs board and contact a recruiter today.

Original article by SPC Wes Parrell, Arizona National Guard, appeared last month in the news section of nationalguard.mil.

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