Small Utah Town Comes to Airman’s Rescue When He Gets Stranded on His Way to Report for Duty

They say in the Air Force that “flexibility is the key to airpower.” And in this case, Facebook was the key to that flexibility, after dozens of people volunteered to help a stranded airman they had never met before.

Image source: The Columbian

Air Force Staff Sgt. Rowan Coash was making his way to report for duty at a base in San Antonio, Texas, from Vancouver, Washingon. After traveling 13 hours and nearly 900 miles, his car broke down.

Coash found himself stranded on the side of the road in what seemed like the middle of nowhere.

“It was almost like someone had nearly pulled the keys out of the ignition,” Coash said, according to KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City.

His 2005 Toyota Corolla had kicked the bucket on Highway 6 west of Price, Utah, still thousands miles from his destination. While Coash waited for a tow truck, he called his friend, Erica Krochmalny in Washington, to explain his situation.

Krochmalny turned to social media for help, posting on her timeline: “Anybody out there in Facebook land near Price, UT and willing to help a soldier?”

washington to price utah
Air Force Staff Sgt. Rowan Coash found himself stranded thousands of miles from his starting point and destination (Image source: KSTU-TV)

As her message went out to hundreds of followers, Coash’s car was towed to Price where a mechanic looked at it.

“The options they were giving me was six to 10 days to get the car fixed and a whole lot of money that I didn’t have at the time,” Coash said.

Coash was on a tight timeline to report for duty; if didn’t make it to Texas in two days he would be considered absent without leave.

But while Coash was busy trying to figure out his next move, Erica’s Facebook post about his car troubles was quickly gaining attention and being shared by hundreds of people, finding its way to one good Samaritan after another.

“Very random, just very random how it all worked out; I was checking Facebook on my phone and saw there was this soldier stranded here in Price,” resident Leslie Holmes said. She agreed to store Coash’s car until he could return.

Coash got a rental truck and got back on the road, still pondering how he could scrape together the money to get his car back. Little did he know that his friend’s Facebook post continued to spread online.

A Price veteran posted on his timeline: “Does anyone know a good mechanic that would be willing to do a solid for an American hero…?” Randy Misner, also a Price resident, decided to reach out.

“I’m a Gulf War veteran, and I served and I just saw a fellow service member in need and felt my duty to help him out; he’s like family to me, ya know? He’s like a brother,” Misner said.

Within hours, more than 100 complete strangers had responded to the call to help the airman. An employee at a local car dealership saw the post and volunteered to inspect the car.

“We saw it needed a motor and once we saw we needed a motor the whole team jumped in,” Tony Basso, owner of Tony Basso GM, said.

After $3,500 in repairs, the car was nearly good as new — and the airman won’t have to pay a dime.

“I think it’s time that we as a nation serve those who protect us but from a small town aspect, us as car dealers and individuals: we all want to help,” Basso said.

Left to right, Randy Misner, Leslie and Rob Holmes stand beside Rowan Coash's broken-down car. (Photo courtesy of the Sun Advocate)
Left to right, Randy Misner, Leslie and Rob Holmes stand beside Rowan Coash’s broken-down car. (Image source: Sun Advocate)

Coash made it to San Antonio on time, according to KTSU, and now a few weeks later — thanks to several strangers who were willing to help a struggling airman — Coash’s car is up and running and they’re shipping it to him, free of charge.

“It was absolutely amazing the overwhelming support that I got, I really don’t know how to put it into words,” Coash said.

(H/T: Fox 13)

Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter.