8-Jun-2017 Source: Dvids
Four New York Army National Guard Soldiers who rescued a pilot from a burning plane received New York’s highest medal for heroism during a June 4 ceremony at the National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility at MacArthur Airport here.
The members of the Company B, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment were presented the New York State Medal of Valor by Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York.
On Feb. 26, the four men–Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ronald Ramirez, and Warrant Officers Christopher Hansen and Aaron Pacholk and Sgt. Yaanique Scott— exited a UH-60 helicopter and raced to a single engine plane that had crashed in the woods by Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
They managed to pull pilot Richard Rosenthal, 61 out of the aircraft as it burned. Unfortunately a passenger and a flight instructor lost their lives in the crash.
Three other Soldiers on the flight at that day received the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal for their quick actions in landing the helicopter and aiding in the rescue.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph McCarthy, the aircraft commander; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Meghan Polis, the co-pilot; and Spc. Sarah Noschese received that award.
“It is from the bottom of my heart that I do say thank you,” Rosenthal, said at the ceremony. “It has given me a very new perspective on being able to say I am glad to be here. Thank you ever so much.”
New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also praised the Soldiers.
“These brave New Yorkers went above and beyond the call of duty and embody the very best of the New York National Guard,” Cuomo said. “I commend the entire crew for their quick actions and I am proud to see these exemplary servicemen and women receive this very deserving honor.”
The seven Soldiers were flying to Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach when the pilots were notified that a plane which had been performing practice landings at the civilian airfield could not be seen and was not responding to radio calls. The flight crew immediately began a search and discovered the downed private aircraft in a nearby wooded area.
After landing their helicopter approximately 200 feet away from the downed aircraft, which was already engulfed in flames, four members of the crew approached the burning aircraft and were able rescue one of the three individuals aboard the plane, Richard Rosenthal.
Unfortunately, efforts to rescue the remaining two passengers were unsuccessful.
“We should be reminded that nothi“We should be reminded that nothing we do is routine,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony German, the New York State Adjutant General after presenting the crew with their awards. “Every day can mean life or death.”
“Their selfless and heroic efforts saved a life and we are proud to recognize their efforts,” German said.
The New York State Medal for Valor is awarded to members of the New York National Guard who display valor, heroism, courage or gallantry either in a military or civilian capacity. The New York State Conspicuous Service Medal is awarded for those who distinguish themselves by exceptionally meritorious service in a capacity of great responsibility.
“We just expected to go out and do training and ended up saving someone’s life,” Warrant Officer Christopher Hansen said. “It’s a proud moment. We had a great crew that accomplished something
special for Mr. Rosenthal.”
The four crew members receiving the Medal of Valor for their rescue efforts were:
* Chief Warrant Officer 2 Ronald Ramirez of the Bronx is a mission planner for the battalion and has served in the New York Army National Guard since 2008. He is a sales representative for Liberty Mutual Insurance.
* Warrant Officer Matthew Pacholk of Greenport is a UH-60 pilot. He joined the New York Army National Guard in 2011 and deployed to Kuwait in 2012/2013. He is a contact representative with the Internal Revenue Service.
* Warrant Officer Christopher Hansen of Goshen is a UH-60 pilot and joined the New York Army National Guard in 2009. He deployed to Kuwait in 2013 and Saudi Arabia in 2014. He works for the New York State Department of Transportation as a highway maintenance worker.
* Sgt. Yaanique Scott of Staten Island is a UH-60 crew chief and has served in the New York Army National Guard since 2006. He deployed to Iraq in 2008 and 2009 and is a New York City firefighter.
The crew members receiving the Conspicuous Service Medal were:
* Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph McCarthy of Orangeburg served as the Pilot in Command. He is the battalion’s Aviation Safety Officer who has served in the New York Army National Guard since 2008. He deployed to Kuwait in 2013 and 2014 and is a New York City firefighter.
* Chief Warrant Officer 2 Meghan Polis of East Patchogue was the mission co-pilot. She is a UH-60 pilot and has served in the New York Army National Guard since 2011. She is vice president of municipal bonds for Drexel Hamilton LLC.
* Spc. Arlene Noschese of St. James is a UH-60 air crew member. She joined the New York Army National Guard in 2013 and is currently planning to study law at St. Joseph’s College.
The accident remains under investigation, but National Transportation Safety Board Lead Investigator Dan Boggs commended the quick response of the National Guard Soldiers.
“If it wasn’t for their quick response, and that really heroic action in a burning airplane, we would have three fatalities instead of two,” Boggs said in a statement.