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Airman traveling to get an award for heroism saves choking baby on his flight


A true lifesaver

Air Force Tech Sgt. Ken O'Brien. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster)

An airman was traveling from Japan to the United States to receive an award for a year of heroic accomplishments. He saved a civilian from a burning vehicle in South Korea. He worked on the Thailand Cave rescue mission. He served on the president's security detail during the North Korea summit.

While he was en route to be honored, he added another act of heroism to his resume — he saved a baby's life on his flight, the Washington Examiner reported.

Tech Sgt. Ken O'Brien was named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year this year. On a flight from Okinawa to Dallas, a baby started choking and stopped breathing.

"Our man OB leaps into action, clears the breathing passage, resuscitates the kid, hands him back to the parents, and then goes on about his business," wrote Lt. Gen. Jim Slife on Facebook.

The Air Force Association page recognizing the Oustanding Airmen detailed the year O'Brien had of service and heroism:

Technical Sergeant Kenneth O'Brien seamlessly embedded with the Secret Service and Joint Special Operation Forces as part of a President of the United States protection team, ensuring safety and security during the first United States and North Korean negotiation summit in history. While on temporary duty, he charged into a burning vehicle in South Korea where he extracted an injured civilian and successfully performed life-saving procedures. Additionally, he played an instrumental role in the Thailand Cave rescue mission. He was essential in creating the rescue plan, which placed himself as the furthest American inside the cave. During the mission, he also led the effort to retrieve and successfully resuscitate a Thai Navy SEAL. His team's heroic efforts led to the rescue of 13 Thai civilians.

"If someone needs to go do something dangerous, I volunteer," O'Brien said. "If someone needs a leader, I volunteer. I happened to be in the right place at the right time and that's what helped me stand out because I sought out key positions or responsibilities."

"I want to keep doing this as long as I can or as long as my body can handle it. Hopefully I can continue to do the big missions like this and continue to help people," O'Brien said.

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