PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
“It was pure instinct. Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about what was going to happen to me. I was just focused on getting out there, getting to him, and getting him back.”
Airman 1st Class Tyler Digby, Staff Sgt. Avery Morehead, and Master Sgt. Wynee Diaz — each of these Airmen had just a single moment to react, and each individually saved someone’s life in a moment of crisis.
For their actions in these moments, Airmen from the 45th Space Wing were recently awarded Melbourne Regional Chamber Valor Awards, which honor local first responders and military members.
After each citation was read, each Airman came on stage and humbly accepted their award.
Airman 1st Class Tyler Digby
For Digby, 45th Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller, it started out as a normal perimeter patrol on a Sunday afternoon across Patrick AFB beaches.
Around 1 p.m., he immediately responded to a call stating that multiple children were being swept away from the beach by rip currents.
When Digby arrived to the scene, people were already providing assistance to those affected. Approximately five minutes later, he received another call for someone being pulled away by rip currents. Then another. And another.
Digby assisted his supervisor, his flight chief, Brevard County Fire & Rescue, Brevard Ocean Rescue and Patrick AFB Fire Department for a total of 12 calls.
“It was just back to back for two hours,” said Digby.
On the last call he and his supervisor were alone. Out in the distance they saw a man bobbing his head up and down in the water, trying to keep from sinking into the depths below.
Digby immediately took off his belt, holster, plate carrier, boots, and socks and plunged into the water. As he was wading in, he called to some surfers nearby to send their board his way. He battled waves and waters approximately 10 feet deep for what felt like hours. While the surfers were making his way to him, he used his strength to keep the man above the waves.
When the bystanders reached him, Digby heaved the man on the board. Away from land and with the team’s emotions high, he calmed them and directed the team back to shore.
Crawling back onto the beach, Digby then provided assistance to the other people who helped him, before he allowed himself to be checked by first responders.
“It was pure instinct,” said Digby. “Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking about what was going to happen to me. I was just focused on getting out there, getting to him, and getting him back.”
Digby was awarded the Medal of Valor.
Staff Sgt. Avery Morehead
Staff Sgt. Avery Morehead, 45th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler, and Military Working Dog, Tigi, were patrolling Manatee Cove on Patrick AFB when Morehead heard the call that a seven year old was unconscious on the golf course.
He responded to the call in less than 60 seconds to find bystanders performing chest compressions on what turned out to be a 70 year old man.
He immediately took over, performing chest compressions for minutes. Patrick AFB Fire Department arrived shortly after and checked the man’s pulse. It was weak.
Morehead’s chest compressions were the only thing keeping the man alive.
Then Brevard County first responders arrived, switched out with Morehead, and defibrillated the man three times before transporting him to a local hospital.
Morehead’s actions were critical in saving the man’s life.
“As soon as I saw that they were doing chest compressions on him I knew from that moment, that was it,” said Morehead. “It was just ‘go in and get the job done,’ “said Morehead.
Morehead was awarded the Life Saving Medal.
Master Sgt. Wynee Diaz
While deployed in Afghanistan, Master Sgt. Wynee Diaz heard an explosion.
The base was under attack.
Diaz looked outside and saw a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer in a state of shock. She immediately left shelter, grabbed the SNCO and pulled her inside. Diaz stayed by her side until the attack was over.
“I wouldn’t have done anything different,” said Diaz. “Our priority is to take care of each other. We’re all brothers and sisters out there."
Diaz doesn’t consider what she did in that moment to be extraordinary. Instead she shifts the focus to those still deployed.
“There are people still out there,” said Diaz. “A care package, or even a simple message goes a long way.”
Diaz was presented an Award of Merit.
It’s because of their ability to stay calm under pressure, demonstrating immeasurable courage, that three people are alive today.
After the ceremony, Digby, Morehead, and Diaz walked through the parking lot in their uniform, got back in their cars and prepared for the next day.