Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Melissa McKenzie
April 19, 2016, was like any other day until a car accident launched two Coast Guard servicemembers into action, based on a gut reaction that ultimately saved a woman’s life.
Petty Officers 3rd Class Jonathan McKinney and Kyle Camaiore, both aviation maintenance technicians assigned to Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii, were driving to their hotel after a long day of training at flight engineer school in Tampa, Florida, when they witnessed a vehicle ahead of them suddenly become airborne and land in the center median of the roadway.
They then saw a passenger struggle to get out of the damaged vehicle and collapse onto the ground. The two petty officers positioned their car to prevent further incident and sprinted to the woman’s side to assess her injuries. They quickly realized the severity of the situation after discovering one of her hands was amputated in the accident.
“I have never experienced or seen an injury of that sort so, at first, I was kind of turned away by it,” said Camaiore. “But then I realized she was in trouble and needed help.”
Utilizing scraps of clothing, a backpack strap and a screwdriver, the two effectively applied a tourniquet to the passenger’s hand stopping the blood loss and stabilizing her until paramedics arrived.
McKinney attributes his quick response and prowess to his time aboard a Coast Guard cutter where battle damage training helped prepare him for a variety of simulated injuries.
“It was just gut reaction,” said McKinney. “We knew we had to do something. I’m just glad I had a general idea of what to do.”
McKinney and Camaiore were awarded the Coast Guard Achievement Medal for their heroic actions. The Coast Guard Achievement Medal is given for performance of duty that exceeds normal expectations and demonstrates an exceptional degree of good judgment, initiative and competence.
Though the two are honored to receive the Coast Guard Achievement Medal, they agree that they were simply in the right place at the right time with the right skills to be able to help. They remain humble.
“It was the right thing to do and I definitely felt that anybody else in that position would have done the same thing,” said McKinney. “We had the means to help so there is no reason why we shouldn’t have.”
“This is an example of the caliber of people we have in the service,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Jeffrey Jackson, command master chief at Air Station Barbers Point. “These two did the right thing. They didn’t just drive by. They stopped and helped and, as a result, saved a woman’s life. I couldn’t be more proud of them and I’m happy to work alongside them.”