Boy Scout, Cubmaster Honored For Heroic Service At Military Crash Site

"I wasn't scared. I didn't feel brave. I just knew that it was the right thing to do."

Cubmasters and their Boy Scouts are taught to be outstanding leaders in their communities. Turns out, they're brought up to be lifesaving heroes, too.

On the morning of May 17, a military aircraft filled with Marines crashed during a routine training exercise at Bellows Air Force Station on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Dusty conditions caused the engine to stall, sending the MV-22 Osprey and the 22 servicemembers inside into a free fall, according to an investigation by the Marine Corps.

Nearby, Kainoa Hepfner, an 8-year-old Webelos Scout had just finished a weekend Cub Scouts camping trip and was watching the trainings with his family, according to local news station KHON2. Upon witnessing the crash, he ran to Lisa Peddle Smith, his Cubmaster and an ICU nurse of 25 years, for help.

She followed Hepfner to the scene, climbed over a fence surrounding the airfield and immediately began helping Marines out of the wreckage and administering CPR. 

"At that time, the [aircraft] was in pieces, on fire," Peddle Smith told KHON2. "There were munitions going off and small explosions."

She was one of the first people at the crash site to offer assistance.

Last week, the National Boy Scouts of America awarded medals to Peddle Smith and Hepfner for their quick thinking and heroic rescue efforts.

The Boy Scouts of America presented Peddle Smith with the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, one of the Boy Scout's highest honors, which is awarded to members who demonstrate unusual heroism and who risk their own safety to save a life.

Hepfner, who had just completed a training in first aid over the weekend, was awarded the Meritorious Action Award's Medal of Merit for his uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.

The crash killed two Marines -- Lance Cpl. Joshua E. Barron, 24, and Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Determan, 21 -- and sent 20 other servicemembers to the hospital.

"If there is anything positive to relay in this situation," Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Brian Block said in a statement following the attack, "it is the heroic, selfless actions of the Marines aboard the aircraft along with the quick lifesaving actions of the civilian and military first responders."

"I didn't think," Peddle Smith told KHON2 of her response to the crash.  "I wasn't scared. I didn't feel brave. I just knew that it was the right thing to do. I knew I could help."

Scouts honor, indeed.


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