Oklahoma guardsman awarded Star of Valor
BY JERRY WOFFORD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
6/19/12 at 2:41 AM
BRAGGS - Sgt. Brandon Dyer was headed to his Oklahoma National Guard weekend drill when the car in front of him went out of control, veered off the road and hit a tree before catching fire.
When Dyer saw the crash, he rushed down and pulled the driver out before the car's gas tank caught fire, likely saving the woman's life.
But even as a civilian, Dyer said he was just doing what was needed and was right.
"I don't feel like I am" a hero, Dyer said. "I'm glad I could be there for her."
Dyer, 37, was awarded the Oklahoma Star of Valor on Monday for his actions a year and a half ago.
The Star of Valor is given to an Oklahoma National Guard member who "performs an act of heroism involving voluntary risk of life or limb designed to protect the life of another person under conditions other than those of conflict with an armed enemy." It is the second highest award given by the Oklahoma National Guard.
Dyer, who is also an ROTC cadet at Northeastern State University, received the award from Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, adjutant general for Oklahoma, in front of his company at Camp Gruber.
"We all hope to have the courage to do what he did," Deering said.
Dyer was headed to his weekend drill at the National Guard armory in Okemah on Nov. 5, 2010, when a car passed him on westbound Interstate 40 about 4:30 p.m. five miles east of Henryetta. The car left the roadway, slid down an embankment and hit a tree, partially ejecting Felicia Gray.
The car was already on fire when Dyer pulled over and got out of his car. He scrambled down the embankment with Betsy McNeil, a motorist who also stopped at the accident scene, and saw Gray was severely injured.
"I went down and got her out of there as fast as I could," Dyer said. "I just wanted to make sure I got her to safety before the car exploded."
Dyer quickly assessed her injuries and then got her out of the vehicle, carrying her up the embankment to the side of the road as the tires popped and the flames grew when the gas tank caught fire.
"I picked her up and got her to safety," Dyer said. "That's all it was - right place, right time."
Dyer and others who had stopped comforted Gray until additional help arrived.
"His actions are a testament to the qualities of our Oklahoma guardsmen who not only serve in combat but answer the call at home when needed," said Maj. Jason Junkens, retired director of NSU ROTC, who recommended Dyer for the award.
While Dyer may not see himself as a hero, Gray and her family do. Betty Sharrow, Gray's grandmother, said that since the accident, Gray gave birth to her second daughter, who is now about 6 months old.
"He is one of the bravest persons we've ever met," Sharrow said. "He's a hero. A definite hero."
Original Print Headline: Guardsman awarded Star of Valor
Jerry Wofford 918-581-8310
Oklahoma National Guard Sgt. Brandon Dyer (center) shakes hands with the command staff as his fellow soldiers applaud after he received the Star of Valor from Maj. Gen. Myles Deering during a ceremony Monday at Camp Gruber. Dyer was awarded the medal for his bravery in rescuing a motorist from a burning vehicle in 2010. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World