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WHEN TRAIN SLAMS INTO PARADE, MASTER SERGEANT ANSWERS CALL

Midland police, fire and sheriffs respond to an accident where a semi trailer carrying veterans in a parade was struck by a train crossing Garfield. (Tim Fischer\Reporter-Telegram)

A freight train going nearly 60 mph hit a parade float full of wounded veterans and their spouses in Midland, Texas, Nov. 15, killing four and injuring 17. (Tim Fischer\Reporter-Telegram)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas- Master Sgt. Christopher Doggett, 17th Training Wing military training leader, was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal for outstanding achievement at Midland, Texas. Doggett used his training in Self Aid and Buddy Care to help save lives at the Hunt for Heroes Parade incident in Midland, Nov. 15, 2012. (Courtesy photo)

Master Sgt. Christopher Doggett was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and the 2013 Noncommissioned Officers Association Vanguard Award for his heroic actions in Midland, where he acted as a first responder to those injured during the train crash (USAF photo)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When a freight train slammed into a parade float in Midland, Texas, Nov. 15, killing four people and injuring 17 others, a heroic Airman here used his Self-Aid and Buddy Care training to help ensure the death toll didn't rise even further.

Master Sgt. Christopher Doggett, a military training leader at Goodfellow, was participating in a Hunt for Heroes parade, honoring wounded veterans. Doggett had been wounded by enemy forces while deployed to Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia, in support of Operation Southern Watch. His combat injuries earned him a Purple Heart and an invitation to Midland's hunting trip and parade. Doggett, along with nearly two dozen other veterans and their spouses, would ride through the town on trailer floats pulled by trucks, while crowds of people cheered for them.

The parade route crossed railroad tracks.

"My wife and I were on the first trailer in the parade; and as we crossed the train tracks, we saw a train moving toward us," Doggett said. "We began yelling at the second trailer (which was still on the tracks)."

He jumped off the first trailer and started running toward the second.

"I was praying it was completely clear of the track; it, unfortunately, wasn't," he said.

As the train, traveling at nearly 60 mph, impacted the float, Doggett automatically went into battle mode.

"My first thoughts were to clear out the wives to keep them from seeing things they weren't prepared to see," he said. "I'm not sure anyone can be prepared for such a sight though."

One of the first people he saw was a woman whose leg had been severed. Two men were already providing CPR.

"I asked a woman behind me for her belt to apply a tourniquet to stop the bleeding," Doggett said. "We all counted chest compressions, and after a few cycles she began to breathe."

The train had stopped moving, but it took extra time for paramedics to respond because of the blocked roads. The uninjured veterans from each float used their military training to help every injured person.

"As I stood there and looked at the destruction that had happened, you could see that each member was being attended to by at least one of the military members on the floats," Doggett said. "Everyone did exactly as they were supposed to do. Without the training we receive and the scenarios we go through, more lives would have been lost."

Tragically, four veterans who had pushed their wives off the float just in time to save them from being a casualty paid with their own lives.

"They to me are the heroes," Doggett said. "They pushed their wives to safety before impact, again spilling their blood for U.S. citizens."