Hickam Airman saves lives

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Makensie Cooper
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

When the time came to save a life, one Airman found that he was in the right place at the right time, not once, but twice. A loadmaster with the 535th Airlift Squadron did not hesitate to step up and act when the emergencies presented themselves to him.

During a sunset cruise with his family off the coast of Waikiki, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Massey, 535th AS loadmaster, noticed an individual in distress and panic due to rough waters.

While in the water with his family, Massey swam over to the troubled swimmer and tried to calm her down. Despite the person’s frantic movements, he was able to gain safe control of her by securing her back to his chest. Massey then had to swim 50 yards through significant swells back to safety.

“I had no time to yell to get someone to throw me something,” said Massey, describing the event. “My son was like, I can’t believe you just saved that woman’s life, and I was like yeah, I wasn’t going to let her drown.”

Massey acted on instinct, and employed the water survival skills he earned in aircrew training to provide aid to save the individual. He used the same instincts several months earlier while on temporary duty assignment in Japan.

Massey’s instincts led him to recognize a fellow Airmen who was struggling in a distraught state. While waiting in his hotel lobby, he noticed the individual and offered assistance.This would lead Massey to find that the Airman was contemplating suicide.

“It wasn’t just training, it was the need or desire to help somebody, if it were me, I would want that empathy because I have lost people to suicide,” Massey emphasized. “I didn’t just do it because I have the ability, I was helping because I genuinely care about the welfare of people in general.”

Drawing on his experience as an acting first sergeant, he was able to unite three wings from two major commands to help the distressed member, and ensured a safe and secure journey home. The Airman expressed their appreciation for the assistance.

“I’m a firm believer that you're put in a place at the right time. I like to tell people that the uniform doesn’t identify us, it’s just a characteristic or an element of what we are,” said Massey. “Whether I take off my rank and name or the flag, I’m still going to be me and I just try to look at it as what I can do to the best of my abilities to help as many people and to just be a good person.”

Massey was recently nominated for an achievement medal and an award for his exemplary actions.

“Tech. Sgt. Massey’s selfless actions and unwavering commitment to the well-being of his fellow Airmen exemplify the core values of the United States Air Force,” said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Garcia, 535th Airlift Squadron senior enlisted leader. “He has demonstrated courage, leadership and compassion in two critical incidents, leaving an indelible mark on the Air Force community.”