Two soldiers shrug off risk to aid motorist
By Lee Cataluna
One week ago, Julia Vaughan was driving home from her job at Hawaiian Airlines to her house in 'Ewa Beach when her tire blew out. She was talking on the phone with her headset when it happened, and she heard something but thought it might be someone else's car or a passing truck, so she just kept going, driving around 65 mph near the Pearl City overpass.
Behind her, two soldiers home from duty in Iraq saw what happened and started yelling at her to pull over to safety.
"They kept trying to wave me down," Vaughan said. "When I didn't pay attention, they pulled out in front of me and tried to get me to slow down."
The noise from the shredded tire started getting louder, and Vaughan slowed down, thinking it was the engine. When she finally realized something was very wrong, she pulled over to the breakdown lane along the freeway. The two soldiers pulled over too and jumped out of their car.
"I asked them if that noise was me. They said, 'Yes!' They both must've thought I was nuts."
She looked and her tire was shredded. She was lucky she hadn't crashed or flipped or plowed in to someone.
Without being asked, the soldiers, Spc. James Hruden and Pfc. Jeremy Timmer, jumped into action to change her tire. They opened her car and got out the jack and the spare.
"James laid under my car and they started working like a team, all along while cars were flying past, dangerously close to them," she said.
They told her they had seen what happened and tried to get her to stop as she kept going about a mile after the tire blew. "They didn't stop trying," she said.
"If that was me, I might have given up on someone who just wasn't paying attention. These guys were wounded in Iraq and survived and came home. They didn't have to do this." Both Hruden and Timmer are members of the Warriors in Transition Battalion at Schofield for soldiers wounded during deployment.
Vaughan wanted to thank Hruden and Timmer for their help. She offered them money, offered them dinner, even airline vouchers, but they declined. "They told me they joined the military to help people and they were just doing their job."
Vaughan contacted their commanding officer to praise the men for their help.
"I think they are a little embarrassed," Vaughan said. "One of the soldiers sent me a text today and said, "It's just a flat tire, no big deal'... but they really kept me out of harm's way."