What started out as a relaxing day fishing, ended in a life-saving response, which earned one noncommissioned officer the Soldier’s Medal for his heroic actions.
Sgt. Dameon Morse, emergency care NCO with Company A, 169th Engineer Battalion, 1st Engineer Brigade, was on his way home after a day of fishing, June 2, 2017, when he saw a wrecked motorcycle in the middle of the road on the Hathaway Bridge in Panama City, Florida.
“My first thought was ‘where is the guy?’” Morse said. “I could see his motorcycle was in pretty bad condition from the crash, and since I did not see any motorcyclist, I stopped and went looking to see if they were OK.”
Morse ended up running a quarter mile against the flow of traffic and came upon the rider who had sustained critical injuries including an amputated arm and a nearly-severed leg beneath his knee. Morse said he quickly assessed the scene and took control, instructing a bystander to help him as he worked to stop the bleeding by using pressure and a belt as an improvised tourniquet.
“I reacted as I have always been trained in the Army,” he said. “The trauma training I received as a medic, and leadership training as an Army NCO, helped me remain calm and take charge of the situation.”
According to 1st Lt. Rob Cook, Company A, 169th Engineer Battalion executive officer, traffic continued to flow at high speeds across the 3,000-foot bridge, which connects Panama City with Panama City Beach, Florida, as Morse and the bystander attended to the rider until first responders could arrive.
“Sgt. Morse displayed exceptionally meritorious bravery with little regard for his own safety to save the life of a civilian in need,” Cook added.
With everything considered, the situation turned out the best it could.
“Despite the motorcyclist losing an arm and a leg as a result of the crash, he was still able to live and recently got married and became a father,” Morse said. “As a husband and father myself, I am glad I was in the right place at the right time to help.”
Morse was awarded the Soldier’s Medal in a ceremony held June 10, 2019 at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, Panama City Beach, Florida. Col. Kip Korth and Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Ferguson II, 1st Engineer Brigade commander and command sergeant major, presented the medal.
Lt. Col. Justin Pabis and Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Meade, 169th Engineer Battalion command team, and Morse’s immediate leadership team attended the ceremony along with his family.
“It is important to recognize Soldiers like Sgt. Morse for the actions he took, because as a culture we often characterize or idealize heroes to a level of myth or legend, much like the ones we see in tales of fiction,” said Staff Sgt. David Craig, Morse’s supervisor. “Modern heroes are individuals who, in a time of need, step up to take action sacrificing concern for themselves in order to protect others.”
“I am not surprised by Doc’s (Morse) actions that night,” Craig said. “He has shown repeatedly that he is a steward of his profession and a man of action.”