137th SOW Airmen receive Oklahoma Star of Valor after rescue
By Staff Sgt. Brigette Waltermire, 137th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 05, 2018
Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Okla. --
Master Sgt. Adam Hinsperger and Master Sgt. Casey Ray, both full-time 285th Special Operations Intelligence Squadron (SOIS) intelligence analysts at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, never imagined receiving Oklahoma Stars of Valor after telling coworkers about their mountain bike ride one weekend.
The two are part of an unofficial group on base that mountain bikes throughout the month, but on February 19, it was just the two of them at Bluff Creek Park in Oklahoma City. They were a mile into their ride when they heard someone yelling. They came upon a distraught jogger who had seen a man hang himself further down the trail.
“I remember holding my pocket knife before the ride thinking, ‘Do I want to take it on the trail?’” said Ray. “I almost left it in the truck, but thankfully I kept it on me.”
Upon reaching the man, Hinsperger held his legs to relieve pressure, and Ray cut the rope with his knife. They saw he was unconscious and turning blue, but found that he was breathing and had a pulse. The jogger had already called 911, and Ray took over to speak with the dispatcher while Hinsperger monitored the man’s breath and heartbeat until first responders arrived.
“You want to be able to help out in the situation, so you react and you do what you have to in the moment,” said Hinsperger. “To get the opportunity to give someone a second chance, I felt pretty great to get the chance to do that.”
Hinsperger said the man recovered and gained consciousness as they waited for the first responders to arrive, and Ray said he was able to walk to the ambulance on his own.
Senior Master Sgt. Mike Johnson, 285th SOIS operations intelligence supervisor, heard about their experience and immediately started the process to recognize them with an award. He said they did not want to be acknowledged at first.
“I was awestruck, but at the same time I was thinking it couldn’t have happened to two people who were better able to respond,” said Johnson. “These guys are extremely humble but always prepared to act in a moment like that.”
Ray said that both he and Hinsperger were able to effectively respond because they understood the importance of staying calm under pressure. Both also relied on the first aid training they gained from the Air Force.
“You really just react,” Ray said. “I think we were in the right place at the right time, but I think anyone would just react naturally.”
Hinsperger also said he hoped that anybody would have done the same thing, but that he was grateful to be recognized.
While their story itself was amazing, Johnson said that Hinsperger and Ray have servant hearts, and he knows they would help in any similar situation.
“We’re never off duty, and I think these two understand that – that we’re always on duty whether we’re in uniform or out,” Johnson said. “On a moment’s notice, they did not think twice about going in to save someone. That stood out to me.”
NOTE: A section of this story was amended from "The jogger had already called 911, but was having a hard time speaking with the dispatcher. Ray spoke with the operator while Hinsperger monitored the man's breath and heartbeat until first responders arrived" Sept. 4, 2018.