Kansas Air Guardsman receives medal for community heroism

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, adjutant general, Kansas National Guard, presents Master Sgt. Josh Manning, information technology specialist, 177th Information Aggressor Squadron, with the certificate for the Airman’s Medal during a ceremony at McConnell Air Force Base, July 20. Manning received the award for non-combat heroic action in 2017, when he put his own life at risk to save someone from a burning vehicle. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jacob Lewis)

By Tech. Sgt. Jacob Lewis, 184th Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kansas. (July 20, 2019) – Master Sgt. Joshua Manning, information technology specialist, 177th Information Aggressor Squadron, received the Airman’s Medal on July 20, 2019, for heroism and putting his own life in danger to help save another.

The Airman’s Medal was established in 1960 to recognize heroic actions in a non-combat situation or setting.

Manning confronted danger on the streets of Wichita Kansas on April 23, 2017.

While returning home from a family function, Manning was confronted by a reckless driver who backed out of a neighborhood driveway. The intoxicated driver slammed down the accelerator, rammed onto the curb, and kept pressing onto the gas until the tires exploded and caught fire. The rubber-less wheels continued to rotate and grinded on concrete which caused the rear end of the vehicle to ignite.

Without hesitation, Manning rushed to the flaming vehicle—he and another bystander attempted to pull out the driver but the intoxicated individual resisted—Manning and the bystander forcibly entered the burning vehicle and pulled him out.

They dragged the driver to safety, waited for the authorities to arrive, and watched as flames engulfed the entire rear of the vehicle.

“What Josh’s actions did represent what a military member does to take care of the community,” said Col. Michael Venerdi, commander of 184th Intelligence Wing. “I hope everyone in this room, particularly the family and especially the kids remember this moment.”

“This is a definitive moment in the life of your dad, of your husband; in the life of our fellow Airman, our teammate,” said Venerdi. “On that particular day Master Sergeant, then Technical Sergeant Manning, had a choice. He could have turned away and ran from danger or do what he did. To choose the alternative path and confront it. To put his own life in danger and to save the life of another human being.”

According to many of his peers and leaders, Manning reflects the Air Force’s core values and showcases how the military training he received helped prepare him to react without hesitation, and to put others before himself.

Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, adjutant general, Kansas National Guard, congratulates Master Sgt. Josh Manning, information technology specialist, 177th Information Aggressor Squadron, after presenting him with the Airman’s Medal during a ceremony at McConnell Air Force Base, July 20. Manning received the medal for non-combat heroic action in 2017, when he put his own life at risk to save someone from a burning vehicle. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jacob Lewis)

“It is ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” said Maj. Gen. Lee E. Tafanelli, adjutant general, Kansas National Guard. “And on that day Technical Sergeant Manning had several choices he could have made. Several choices that no one would have faulted, but the choice he made was one that lead him to spring into action and risk his own life to save another individual.”

“I think we all like to think we all would do the same thing—and many of us would—but it comes down to the character, kind of dedicated professional he is, and it comes down to the way his family has raised him,” said Tafanelli. “He embodies the Air Force core values—service before self, excellence in all we do—he personified that on that day.”

Manning expressed gratitude toward his family and military community.

“I know from the bottom of my heart that any of you in this room, if you were in my shoes at that time, you would have done the exact same thing,” said Manning. “I was privileged and fortunate enough to have the [military leaders] I have to turn this into a reality today. We all have those moments where it’s go or no go, and sometimes you don’t have time to think. You either act or don’t act, and I am fortunate that it all turned out well and no lives were lost. Thank you everybody.”