Guardsman awarded Kentucky’s top military honor

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Governor Matt Bevin presents Staff Sgt. Michael R. Tester the Kentucky Medal for Valor during this years National Guard conference in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 8, 2017. The award is the highest military honor Kentucky can present to a Guardsman. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane)

LOUISVILLE, KY – Heroes are made in an instant and for a local Army National Guardsman, instant reactions and military training saved lives and he was recognized  for his heroics Sept. 8.

Governor Matt Bevin and Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Hogan were on hand to award Staff Sgt. Michael R. Tester the Kentucky Medal for Valor for his actions last year. Tester serves as a supply non-commissioned officer with Alpha Battery, 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery in Glasgow, Kentucky.

On Sept. 14, 2016, as Tester was at his home in Summersville, Kentucky with his father, they witnessed a crash involving two vehicles from his driveway. The collision sent one of the vehicles into an end-over-end roll.  The second vehicle continued along the highway and fled the scene.  Without thought of his personal safety, Tester immediately ran to the overturned vehicle as his father ran into the house to have Tester’s wife call 911.

Upon arriving at the vehicle, Tester found two passengers, one conscious and one unconscious. Upon asking the conscious victim how many persons were in the vehicle, he found out there was a third passenger in the car.

By this time, Tester’s wife and father, along with a few other individuals who stopped to help were on the scene of the wreck. Tester loudly announced there was another passenger they needed to locate.  As Tester’s wife began monitoring the two passengers, the rest of the group began searching in the darkness along the highway for the third passenger.

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Tester located the third passenger entangled in a fence along the side of the roadway. He quickly evaluated the passenger’s injuries, he wasn’t breathing.  With the help of another individual, they removed the passenger from the fence and laid him on his back.  He performed CPR for several minutes until emergency medical services and the Summersville Volunteer Fire Department arrived.  EMS monitored the vital signs while Tester continued to administer CPR.

Despite the magnitude of his actions, Tester himself doesn’t look at himself as being a hero.

“I did what I would expect anyone in that situation to do, anybody with the capacity. I didn’t do anything that most people wouldn’t do every day,” he said. “Especially with our law enforcement officers, what I did, they stand ready to do every day when they put the uniform on.”

His unit commander has seen the potential in Tester going back to his first day in the guard.

“Sergeant Tester is an all-star Soldier,” said Lt. Col. Lawrence Joiner, commander of the 1/623rd. “I’ve been acquainted with him since 2004 and I was his commander when we deployed to Iraq. First time I ever laid eyes on him as private first class, he was coming down the hall in the armory and he looked like one of the best looking Soldiers I’d ever seen. So I knew from that point he was going to do great things.”

The Kentucky Medal for Valor award is the highest military award the state of Kentucky can give out to its Soldiers.

“It’s a very humbling experience especially given the circumstances,” said Tester. I can’t express how grateful for the honor and opportunity. I just did what any other Soldier would have done in this situation.”

There is no doubt his decisiveness, leadership, and knowledge on how to evaluate a casualty were key factors in securing the scene and providing much needed assistance prior to the arrival of emergency services.

Tester is a great role model for fellow Soldiers in his unit as well as other Guard members. His commander saw his potential to be great and would like to advise other Soldiers to be like Tester, and to follow his lead.

“Do your job, that’s what he does every day. He doesn’t worry about glory and fame, so I’d tell other Solders, to first, be sure you look like a Soldier every day and then go to work and do your job and the glory and fame will come later,” concluded Joiner.