‘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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Guard Snapshot: Illinois

At the 2014 U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., in late January, one Illinois Army National Guard Soldier was intent on making history.

And that he did.

Col. Robert Choppa, Chief of Infantry and Commandant for the U.S. Army Infantry School, awards Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Landon of Creal Springs, Ill., with the 3637th Maintenance Company in Springfield, Ill., the Distinguished Rifleman Badge after the 2014 U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 1.

Col. Robert Choppa, Chief of Infantry and Commandant for the U.S. Army Infantry School, awards Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Landon of Creal Springs, Ill., with the 3637th Maintenance Company in Springfield, Ill., the Distinguished Rifleman Badge after the 2014 U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., Feb. 1.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Landon earned a Distinguished Rifleman Badge, making him one of only about 3,300 to receive the badge since its inception in 1959.

“It’s exciting to receive the badge because only so many have gotten it,” he said. “It was a goal I set and achieved.”

During the competition, Landon accumulated the last six of 30 leg points needed to reach distinguished status. Leg points are awarded based on an individual’s placement among the top 10 percent of competitors in an authorized match. Leg points accumulate throughout a competitor’s lifetime until distinguished status is attained; however, Landon reached his points in just three years.

A member of the 3637th Maintenance Company, he was one of six Illinois National Guard Soldiers who travelled to Georgia to compete against 200 other Soldiers from across the Nation. The event is considered to be the Army’s premier marksmanship training event.

“This is the ultimate train the trainer event,” said Lt. Col. Don A. King Jr., the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit commander at Fort Benning. “Our primary focus is to reach out and show capabilities to take back and share with your Soldiers.”

The U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., featured various competitions to test the Soldiers’ shooting proficiency.

The U.S. Army Small Arms Championships at Fort Benning, Ga., featured various competitions to test the Soldiers’ shooting proficiency.

The advanced combat, live-fire competition consisted of various matches to test the Soldiers’ shooting proficiency. A multi-gun match tested their ability to transition between a rifle and pistol while engaging various targets at different distances. More challenging matches required a mile and a half run in full combat gear before engaging targets.

In addition to Landon, the Illinois team consisted of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brandon Gibbs with Company B, 634th Brigade Support Battalion; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Gleason with the 3625th Maintenance Company; Sgt. 1st Class Tracy Mix with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade; Sgt. Jeffrey Buggar with the 1844th Transportation Company; and Spc. Joseph Miller with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 232nd Combat Support and Sustainment Battalion.

“Our main focus was to gain experience and bring back new trends and techniques that can be passed on to Illinois Soldiers,” said Gibbs. “We hope to enhance the State-level competition and improve weapons qualifications down to the company level.”

If you’re interested in learning what it takes to become a marksman for the Army National Guard, visit our jobs board and contact a Recruiter today.

Original article and photo courtesy of the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office.

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