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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | Nov. 6, 2023

Local Defender awarded Airman's Medal for saving child's life

By Senior Airman Tyrone Thomas | 316th Wing Public Affairs

On Oct. 10th, 2023, Senior Airman Matthew B. West was awarded the Airman’s Medal for his heroic actions of saving a young girl’s life during a dog attack on base, Oct 26, 2022.

Last October, West was outside walking with his daughter when he heard a child scream from a nearby playground. He discovered a canine attacking a seven-year-old girl, sprinted to the attacking dog, and pinned it down until authorities arrived. His intervention allowed the child to escape and receive life-saving medical treatment. Today, the young girl is alive and healthy based on West’s courage to step into a dangerous situation.

West, a 316th Security Forces Squadron Defender, was surrounded by family members and fellow Defenders at a ceremony one year later recognizing his brave actions that ultimately saved a child’s life.

“As Defenders, you are expected to have a high level of professionalism and an ability to respond quickly to all situations,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel A. DeVoe, Air Force District of Washington commander. “When we need something, we turn to a Defender, and Airman West demonstrated that he is a person of action – someone you can trust when you need help.”

The Airman’s Medal is the highest award given during peacetime with only approximately 300 recipients since its establishment in 1960.

Following this incident, the privatized housing on base modified their leasing agreements to include clauses allowing Security Forces the authority to remove pets from base homes based on complaints or potentially negligent pet owners.