Inspiraton comes full circle, saves lives

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Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade UPAHR

Pfc. Michael Kelly-Walker in action at Fort Chaffee, Ark. Kelly-Walker was recognized for his quick response when his fellow Soldiers succumbed to record setting heat during their recent annual training exercise. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade UPAHR)

NOTE:  Each week kentuckyguard.com publishes stories by Kentucky National Guard unit public affairs historian representatives, also known as UPAHRs.  This is an additional duty taken on by a Soldier or Airmen with the intent of telling their unit’s story.  This is one such story ….

FORT CHAFFEE,  Ark. – Fort Chaffee, Arkansas broke a 130-year-old record for number of consecutive days with over 100 degree temperatures. Normally that wouldn’t affect Soldiers in the Kentucky Army National Guard, but it does when they’re doing their annual Training in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas in the middle of the record-setting heat wave.

Soldiers from the 138th Fires Brigade out of Lexington convoyed to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas on Saturday July 23rd and will continue training through the 6th of August.

They planned on doing fires training. They planned on doing close-quarters marksmanship training. They didn’t plan on annual training taking place during record-breaking heat.

Although staying hydrated and drinking water has been their mantra as early as April during the late-phase AT planning, it didn’t stop a few soldiers from not taking heed.

Thankfully the 138th has several outstanding young medics, some of whom probably saved a few lives through quick actions when the temperature climbed over 100 degrees every day.

Pfc. Michael Kelly-Walker, a 21-year-old Grant County native, was one of the soldiers who proved his mettle. Kelly-Walker was forced into some unplanned real life first aid action when his fellow soldiers succumbed to the unrelenting and punishing Arkansas heat wave.

Kelly-Walker administered five soldiers with IV’s during a three hour period when the temperature climbed to over 110 degrees during training on the close-quarters marksmanship lane.

Pfc. Michael Kelly-Walker received a commander's coin from Col. Rondal Turner in recognition for his actions in helping his fellow Soldiers in time of need. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Steve Tressler, 138th Fires Brigade UPAHR)

Col. Rondal Turner, 138th Brigade Commander, observed PFC Kelly-Walker in action.  The next day he presented the young medic with a brigade coin for his quick actions.

“You’re doing some outstanding work Soldier, very important and good stuff,” Turner said.

“I’m glad that I was trained by good leaders,” said Kelly-Walker.  “I’m just doing what I’m trained to do.”

It turns out that one of the reasons  Kelly-Walker joined the Kentucky Army National Guard was because of an inspirational speech given by a young artillery officer when he was in high school.

“Col. Turner is one of the reasons I joined the Guard,” said Kelly-Walker.

And now, four years later that same officer is in turn inspired by a young private first class doing what he was born to do.

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