Alabama Guard Unit Steps Up

Two days after a tragic church bus crash in Lauderdale County that claimed one life and injured others on their way to youth camp, members of the Alabama National Guard, Detachment 1, 2101st Transportation Company of Aliceville are still reflecting on the victims, rather than their own actions.

Members of the unit say they saw the wreck happen and immediately reacted. They first sent out three guardsmen to survey the situation. But then saw teenagers exiting the bus, which had rolled several times.

"I heard this young lady screaming for help up under the bus and we saw part of her body through the window of the bus with her body on the ground," said Sgt. Brian Pearson. "So, we knew we had one up under there but when we lifted it up we discovered we had two people under the bus. We didn't have any doubt. We just knew what we had to do."

All 47 soldiers combined their strength to lifted the bus from its side back to its upright state.

"I feel very, very proud to know I've done what I can to help those children," said Sgt. Angela Oliver, also a nurse. "And they were so scared and so nervous, just being a comforter alone."

"I remember as we approached the bus, I saw fluid leaking from the bus. Never did we stop to say it could blow up or whatever; we just did what we had to do," said Sgt. Cynthia Miles.

When it comes to the accident, members of the unit say there are many things that seem somewhat ironic. For example, the unit was returning from training on how to deal with rollover accidents. And just last month they completed training on saving lives. Not only this, their time of departure placed them where they were needed.

"The thing about it is that our bus was the last bus in the series of buses, and somehow, for some reason, we moved to the front," said Sgt. First Class Ike Gipson.

"I've never left early in the military," said Sgt. Gregory Thomas. "The first time I left early was Sunday morning. I guess God put us where he wanted us and that was there."

Meanwhile, as the Alabama National Guard prepares to honor the unit, members say they are not heroes, but instead, were just doing their duty.

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