By Staff Sgt. Joe Harwood 179AW Public Affairs Photojournalist
Blankley was traveling on Interstate 75 last June 22 when he saw a vehicle lose control, travel into the median and roll over several times before it came to rest on its side with severe damage. Blankley pulled over and entered the overturned vehicle to check the driver. After a quick assessment of the drivers multiple injuries and severe bleeding from his head, Blankley rendered lifesaving measures and remained with the victim until first responders arrived.
On March 9, Blankley was awarded the Ohio Distinguished Service Medal with the “V” device. Attending at Camp Perry in Port Clinton were: Ohio Air National Guard State Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Tamara R. Phillips; Chief of Staff for the Ohio Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Stephen E. Markovich; 200th RED HORSE Commander, Col. Todd M. Audet; and Chief Master Sgt. Michael D. Crosser.
'“It’s really a great moment, we’re tremendously proud, across the Guard, when one of our own gets a chance to take the skills that they’ve learned and exercise their training,” Markovich said.
The man that he saved, Ronald Alberding, of Huntsville, Ohio, expressed his gratitude by attending the award ceremony with his family. Alberding explained how Blankley comforted and protected him from the moment he arrived, until first responders were able to remove him from the twisted wreckage. “He told me he was over in Afghanistan and that ‘your injuries are not anything [to worry about], I’ve seen worse’; so that made me feel great. I was glad that he was there,” Alberding said.
Blankley said he felt comfortable using his life-saving military training and didn’t think twice about jumping in to help a fellow citizen in need. “There was a man in a car accident that was pretty bad and I was able to get into the car and help him out until the medics showed up and saved his life,” Blankley said. His selfless actions reflect the distinguishing character instilled in every Ohio Air National Guard member. From the day they take the oath of enlistment, Airmen are taught the Air Force Core Values: Integrity first, Service before self and Excellence in all we do. These are not just words, but a value system that Airmen are expected to live by every day.
That afternoon, passing traffic witnessed an Airman living his core values and doing everything possible to help a fellow citizen in need at a dangerous crash scene.
“I just know that what you have done has increased the public’s trust in Ohio Guardsmen,” Phillips said, “We are the defenders, not only while deployed overseas, but we are the defenders of our communities as well.”