by Airman 1st Class Erin R. Babis
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
9/23/2015 - ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- An
Airman from Royal Air Force Lakenheath's 48th Contracting Squadron
unexpectedly fell into the role of hero when he responded to a shooting
in Bury St. Edmunds, Aug. 4.
Senior Airman Aaron Thomas, contracting specialist, was unwinding after
work when he heard a man scream for help after being shot in the stomach
with a shotgun.
"At first I thought it was fake," Thomas admitted. "But he kept screaming, and I saw how dark the blood was."
He grabbed a towel and rushed to the scene to help stop the bleeding
from the man's gunshot wound. He helped the man lay down and used his
Self-Aid Buddy Care training to stabilize the victim.
"It happened so fast," Thomas said. "It wasn't until I got back to my
house that I started to freak out just a little bit. The worst part was
him saying he didn't want to die."
Days after the shooting, Thomas was still surprised by how relaxed he
was during the incident. As blood kept pouring out of the man's stomach
wound, he remembered very calmly responding to his distressed cries
telling him, "You're going to be alright, buddy."
Despite the fact that he was the first to react, get the victim to
safety and apply pressure to his gunshot wound, Thomas was very clear on
one point. He did not want to be given what he considers undue credit.
"I don't want people thinking I saved his life or that I'm a hero,"
Thomas said. "The cops got there really quickly and the paramedics soon
after them. They saved his life. I don't want credit for something they
According to Tech. Sgt. Eric Schaffstein, NCO in charge of 48th CONS A
Flight, it's typical of Thomas to understate his accomplishments.
"He's not the loud and proud guy," Schaffstein explained. "He's the guy
who knows what's going on and is really doing his job without waving
flags and calling attention to himself."
According to Schaffstein, Thomas is not only technically proficient at
his job, but he works tirelessly to ensure he's never behind, regardless
of unexpected extra duties and working toward achieving higher
"Something like this highlights his character," Schaffstein said. "This
shows a situation that could've been dangerous and he stepped up and
just did what needed to be done."
Thomas was presented with the Air Force Commendation Medal by Col.
Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, Sept. 23, for his act of
courage which, helped save a man's life