by Master Sgt. Andy Stephens
Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
3/17/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Three
Air Force recruiters in Albuquerque, N.M., assigned to the 367th
Recruiting Squadron put their military training to the test Feb. 24
after they witnessed a motor vehicle collide with a motorcycle, injuring
the two riders. The recruiters secured the scene and provided first aid
until ambulances arrived.
Master Sgt. Damian Vandevender, Tech. Sgt. Ruben Torres and Staff Sgt.
Jose Diaz De Lopediaz had left a science fair in Albuquerque and were
about to return to their Cottonwood Mall recruiting station when they
witnessed the collision.
"When we saw it happen, we just reacted as we've been trained to help
out any Airman in distress," said Vandevender, D-Flight chief. "It's
amazing sometimes how our reflexes and training work together in a
crisis. All of us hope we were able to make a difference and that the
couple makes a speedy recovery."
Lt. Col. Darrell L. Smith, 367th Recruiting Squadron commander, said it
was the recruiters' Air Force training that made the difference between
being witnesses to such a scene and actually knowing how to save a life.
"Anyone who thinks that a recruiter is just a salesperson for the Air
Force is wrong," Smith said. "Our recruiters are the best the Air Force
has to offer in their career fields and we complete annual training for
everything from critical life-saving to working with local first
"Sometimes, our recruiters have additional skills," Smith continued.
"Tech Sergeant Torres was a trained Air Force firefighter prior to
becoming a recruiter, while Master Sergeant Vandevender and Staff
Sergeant Diaz De Lopediaz have completed their annual skills training.
These recruiters represent the epitome of service before self - calm
under pressure, delivering lifesaving aid while in uniform and
demonstrating the quality of their training in a real life-or-death
According to Smith, Torres checked the motorcyclists for bleeding and
broken bones while Vandevender and Diaz helped keep the couple calm and
guide traffic around the scene until paramedics arrived. The recruiters
then apprised the paramedics of the extent of the injuries to expedite
Vandevender credits Torres for his quick thinking, describing the
12-year Air Force veteran (in his second month as a recruiter) as
"springing into action without hesitation." The flight chief added that
it felt good to be able to make such an important difference in the
lives of people in their community.
"Recruiters are invested in the communities they serve," Vandevender
said. "While many people might see Airmen like us as apart from civilian
society, in reality, we're their neighbors too. We live down the street
from you, our kids are friends with yours and we will do everything we
can to protect you and your family. On Feb. 24, we were able to prove
the spirit of our service to the Albuquerque community, and nothing
feels better than when you know you've done the right thing when it's
Smith said he plans to recognize the Cottonwood Mall station recruiting team for their quick thinking and resourcefulness.