KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – An Army Veteran, now 21st Theater Sustainment Command civilian employee, was recognized with the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service, Jan. 17 2019, on Panzer Kaserne for saving a Soldier’s life.
Tira Faiivae, budget analyst, received the award from Maj. Gen. Steven A. Shapiro, commanding general, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, for her quick action in applying life-saving measures to a choking Soldier during the 2018 Special Troops Battalion’s organization day, Aug. 22, 2018 at Pulaski Park in Kaiserslautern.
“Forethought and quick thinking saved the life of one of our Soldiers” Shapiro said, describing Faiivae’s actions as he presented her with the Civilian Award for Humanitarian Service, the civilian equivalent of the Soldier’s Medal.
Faiivae joined the 21st TSC in January 2018 and was excited to experience her first organizational day with her mother and children but had no idea the day would be so eventful.
“I had just wrapped up a game of volleyball with friends when I went to grab something to drink. While standing at the coolers I noticed the event’s DJ was having trouble breathing.” she said. “I could hear him coughing forcefully and saw the hamburger in his hand. I asked if he was ok, but he didn’t say again just continued coughing. I hit him twice and the back then he just hit the ground. At that point, I screamed for someone to help.”
Maria Resende, a co-worker of Faiivae, accounted that she saw Faiivae take immediate action.
“I believe before anyone could help, Tira had already lifted the man up from the ground and started performing the Heimlich maneuver,” Resende said. “I think everyone standing around following her initial reaction was shocked that this was even taking place.”
Faiivae said she was surprised by how fast the events unfolded.
“All I could think of was how I just saw this man sitting with his family, his wife, his children in between taking the stage to play music” said Faiivae. “It was crazy because I really felt God lead me to the right place, at the right time. I had been enjoying his music choices all afternoon and can recall at one point being the only person in front of his stage dancing and giving him a thumbs up when he played a song I was really into”.
The Soldier’s Medal was established in 1926 and is a military honor where service members who performed acts of heroism during conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy, which resulted in saving a life.
“It’s not too often I have the opportunity to recognize a civilian for this type of award,” Shapiro said. “It is a distinct honor to be able to recognized Mrs. Faiivae for saving one of our Soldiers.”
Faiivae highlighted in her comments during the award ceremony that her quick actions were a directly reflection of three things.
“Mommy instincts, Military Combat Life (saver) training, and the Lord, I believe were three reasons I was able to make a difference during a time of emergency,” she said. “We train as Soldiers to be able to help our battle buddy in their time of need. The Combat Lifesaver training provided me with the needed skills to be able to perform but never did I expect to have to use those skills in real life. The entire experience was truly humbling and a blessing to have God use me in such a way.”
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