An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

HomeNewsArticle Display

Guardsman receives Airman's medal for heroism

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Tech. Sgt. Joe Reuter, a 148th Space Operations Squadron satellite communications maintenance team leader, was presented with the Airman's Medal March 1. The Air Force awards the medal to Airmen who display acts of heroism in a non-combat environment, by voluntarily risking their own life, to save another. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Trey Lewis)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Tech. Sgt. Joe Reuter, a 148th Space Operations Squadron satellite communications maintenance team leader, was presented with the Airman's Medal March 1. The Air Force awards the medal to Airmen who display acts of heroism in a non-combat environment, by voluntarily risking their own life, to save another. (Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Trey Lewis)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- An Air Force Guardsman received the Airman's Medal at the Vandenberg Tracking Station on March 1.

Tech. Sgt. Joe Reuter, a 148th Space Operations Squadron satellite communications maintenance team leader, received the award for rescuing Ivan Degollado from a vehicle that was engulfed in fire after an automobile collision on U.S. Highway 101, Sept. 10, 2005. Due to Sergeant Rueter's bravery Mr. Degollado was saved from life-threatening flames, sustaining only minor burns.

The Air Force awards the Airmen's Medal to Airmen who display acts of heroism in a non-combat environment, by voluntarily risking their own life, to save another.

Sergeant Reuter was presented the prestigious medal by Maj. Gen. Emil Lassen, the Air National Guard assistant to the commander of Air Force Space Command.

Sergeant Reuter was on his way to his unit's September formation the morning of the accident. Carpooling with Master Sgt. Patricia Rosso, the NCOIC of the 148th Satellite Maintenance Flight, the two saw the accident as it happened.

"I was half awake and we saw a bright light as a car hit the center divider," Sergeant Rosso said. "Before I could process what had happened, Joe had pulled the car over."

After crossing the highway, Sergeant Reuter pulled Mr. Degollado from the car and used principles he learned from Air Force training in Self Aid and Buddy Care to ensure Mr. Degollado's safety, according to Sergeant Rosso.

The award is not only meaningful to Sergeant Reuter but also a compliment to his ANG unit.

"Working in Space Command it is hard to convey to friends and family members our contribution to the Global War on Terror. An award like this is a great example to what Guardsmen can do," said Col. Steven Beck, commander of the 162nd Combat Communications Group. "As Guardsmen we take an oath not only to protect the citizens of the United States, but also those of California. Tech. Sergeant Joe Reuter did just that when he jeopardized his life to save a fellow citizen."

The guard unit, whose mission is to track and maintain satellites, takes pride in being a part of the equation that brings GPS support to ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The biggest testament to the guard unit came from Sergeant Reuter himself.

"It is an honor to be recognized, but to be perfectly honest, I don't know any member of my guard unit that wouldn't do the same thing if put in the position."