AUGUSTA — Sgt. Mark Connor said he likes to think what he and his Maine National Guard colleague Sgt. 1st Class Joel Carver did in North Carolina in March 2011 is “what anybody would do.”
Connor of Lewiston and Carver of Clinton were honored at a ceremony at the State House and awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the highest non-combat award for valor, Monday by Maine’s first lady Ann LePage and the state’s top military brass Brig. Gen. James Campbell, the Maine Guard adjutant general.
En route to a training mission at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Connor and Carver came across a car wreck where the vehicle was overturned and smoking. The two soldiers, according to the citation for the medal, risked their own personal safety to save the lives of the driver and a passenger by pulling them to safety as the car was engulfed in flames.
“We noticed a vehicle overturned off the highway — off I-95 and seen smoke coming out of the car and just one headlight on and we knew there was a situation going on and probably not a good one,” Connor said.
Seeing no emergency crews responding, Connor and Carver stopped their vehicle and crossed the highway to the scene.
“We hopped over across the median to take a look and see what was going on and the undercarriage of the vehicle was caught on fire, and we notice there was a gentleman trapped inside the vehicle and moments later heard a young lady yelling in the back,” Connor said. “So we had to break the windows to get them out to safety and up to the side of the highway.”
Local emergency crews soon arrived, Connor said, noting both passenger and driver were relatively uninjured.
“This award is the highest honor a soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation,” according to a statement from the Maine National Guard. “The medal is awarded to any individual whom while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States, performs an act involving personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life while not in conflict with an armed enemy.”