McConnell airman pauses family vacation to provide Hurricane Harvey relief

KSN News.

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – McConnell Air Force Base has many people who do heroic acts everyday. And this year, the base is recognizing an airman who jumped into action in Texas during Hurricane Harvey.

But the catch is, he helped out of uniform.

Technical Sergeant Carlos Espitia says he, his wife, and their daughter were visiting family in Texas when the storm hit. He quickly followed his instincts and helped those in need, and because of those efforts, is in the running for a big honor.

You can typically find Espitia at McConnell Air Force Base.

He’s usually here, grinding materials for dental appliances. But in August, Espitia and his family were in a disaster zone.

“Forecast changed big time,” said Carlos Espitia, Technical Sergeant.

Hurricane Harvey flooded hundreds of homes and roads forcing many people to find safety.

As soon as it hit, Espitia knew what he had to do.

“No that’s just not, I can’t just watch someone in trouble,” said Espitia.

He and his uncle used a truck to drive through flooded areas to find people in need.

“Getting them out of the water and then helping them out afterwards, they had to leave nothing, they just got in their vehicle and left,” said Espitia.

Espitia also used his knowledge of Spanish to translate for many people caught in the storm. He even helped bandage a man needing first aid on his leg. He says the wife’s reaction is one he won’t forget.

“A great big hug, tears changed from being sad and scared,” said Espitia.

This week Espitia was nominated for the annual Vanguard Award, an Air Force wide honor that one person receives. Others at McConnell say Espitia’s actions, deserve the recognition.

“Service before self and being able to help others in and out of uniform and so what he did on his time off, on a family vacation, to help others was amazing,” said Captain Rose Tran, Dental Flight Commander.

Espitia says he’s so honored to be up for the award, which honors an enlisted service member from each branch for a heroic act, on or off duty, which results in saving someone’s life or preventing a serious injury.

He should hear if he won it sometime next year.