JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --
A U.S. Air Force 673d Security Forces Squadron combat arms Airman was cross-country skiing when he saw a U.S. Army AH-64D Apache helicopter crash-land in Talkeetna, Alaska, Feb. 5, 2023.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Helberg was trained to react accordingly when there is a possible combat casualty, and his instinct kicked in when he saw the helicopter go down.
“My wife and I were out cross-country skiing in the area near the airport, when suddenly we saw a lot of dust kicking up from the snow. Then we saw the helicopter go down,” said Helberg. “My training kicked in. I went over there to provide Tactical Combat Casualty Care on the pilot and helped get him in the ambulance.”
Helberg said as the accident was happening, he knew what he needed to do, and nothing else mattered to him. He knew he had to put himself in danger in order to save lives.
“When I got to the helicopter, I got the pilot out, did an assessment on him, then got a tourniquet on him,” said Helberg. “I asked myself, ‘Is he bleeding? Is he conscious? Does he have any feeling in his body?’ If you can’t sit down and realize what’s going on, everything is going to be chaos.”
Helberg added that his training instilled in him the ability to remain calm and collected when things go wrong, and to be prepared for anything and everything.
673d Security Forces Squadron commander Lt. Col. Michael Kennedy said Helberg is one of five instructors responsible for the firearms training of 3,400 personnel along with the inspection and gauging of more than 5,000 weapons annually.
“Staff Sgt. Helberg is one of the most honorable and hard-working individuals I have had the pleasure of serving with,” Kennedy said. “He selflessly gives and assists anywhere he can and does not hesitate to act when needed.”
In the past, Helberg has coordinated multiple interactive learning objective demonstrations, led five-member teams, strengthened awareness for use of force through numerous scenarios, and has taken charge of multiple training opportunities, thus further showcasing his strong leadership and airmanship skills, Kennedy said.
“Bottom line, his actions were a testament to the type of defenders I want within my command and Air Force,” said Kennedy. “I am grateful to serve with him and I am honored he is in my unit.”
Helberg said he is well-trained in approaching the threat, no matter what it is. He is always ready to save lives and doesn't hesitate when faced with an emergency.
“Contrary to belief, it’s just another day. Yes, it was a crazy event, and not a lot of people see aircraft crashes,” said Helberg. “It’s my job (to save lives). I wasn’t thinking this was going to get me accolades. At that moment I said to myself, ‘Somebody is hurt, and I need to help.’”
Thanks to Helberg’s readiness, the Army pilot was treated and released the next day.