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Soldier a compassionate, humble rescuer

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Can one person really make a difference?

Sgt. Jacob Perkins from the Fort Drum Army base was heading home for some needed family time when he drove toward a burning bus.

Sgt. Perkins didn’t know what had happened, but he did know without a doubt that he was going to do whatever he could to help. Without thinking of the risk to his own life, he did what I couldn’t do! Jake entered a bus that was exploding around him to help people off and to a safe distance from the bus.

Every time a tire exploded no one else came off the bus for a few seconds, and then more would start to come. I remember screaming at the bus and thinking my husband, William, and daughter, Michelle, were going to die on that bus.

All I could do was pray for help and fast as time was running out. My prayers were answered when Jake arrived on the scene in time to make sure everyone was rescued from the burning bus.

You never know if making the decision to stop and help someone could make a difference. If Jake hadn’t stopped and hadn’t wanted to get involved, my life would be very different today. Not everyone will get the opportunity in life to make as much of an impact on people’s lives that he did that night, but just know that you’ll never know unless you try.

Jake is a very quiet, humble and compassionate person. After driving my daughter and me to two different hospitals and sitting by my husband’s bedside for hours, he wouldn’t accept any money or even a coffee. He even tried to sneak away without saying “goodbye.” Jake did accept a hug and a thank you! When I asked for his name and address, he told me “only if you promise to never send any money.”

Jake, you became part of our family that night. We are very proud of you, and the well-deserved awards you have received.

I would thank you from the bottom of my heart, but for you my heart has no bottom.

I speak for a lot of Canadians when I say thank you, Sgt. Jacob Perkins, for being our hero that night.

Sandy Blair

London, Ontario

Editor’s note: Staff Sgt. Perkins, with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was honored by the USO as the Army’s Soldier of the Year for rescuing passengers from a burning bus after a crash near Waterloo in July 2011.

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