USS Albuquerque Sailors Honored for Heroism in Campground Fire

Story Number: NNS141120-25Release Date: 11/20/2014 9:09:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Kyle Carlstrom, Commander, Submarine Squadron 11 Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Padre Dam Municipal Water District (PDMWD) in Santee, Calif., recognized three Sailors, assigned to the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Albuquerque (SSN 706), Nov. 19 for their heroic actions in saving the lives of two residents at the Santee Lakes Regional Park and Campground.

PDMWD, along with several city and state official representatives, recognized Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Dylan Perkins (not present), Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Wesley Woods, and Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Patrick Igoe in front of community members and the Sailors' families.

On the morning of Oct. 5, Perkins and Woods were outside while Igoe was asleep inside Perkins' trailer when a fireball caused by propane build-up erupted from a nearby trailer, injuring the couple inside.

"It wasn't what I would call a deafening explosion, but it was definitely something you don't hear every day," said Woods. He explained that Perkins ran into his trailer to retrieve a fire extinguisher and the two ran down the street to help.

When they arrived, Perkins and Woods extinguished the fires inside the trailer. Than, they aided Carmen and James Ruelas, who were both badly burnt, and brought them back to Perkins' trailer. Igoe continued treating the couple, placing both into a cold shower and removing burnt clothing, until firefighters and paramedics arrived on scene.

"Being in the military, we're trained to remain calm out no matter what happens," said Igoe.

Woods had a similar thought, crediting training.

"It's instilled in our minds that once a casualty really does happen and it's not a drill, we know just to snap right to it and do exactly what needs to be done," said Woods.

Also in attendance at the presentation was Mrs. Ruelas, who met her rescuers for the first time since the accident. (James was still recovering from his wounds).

"I feel really blessed to be here to say thank you to them a month later," she said. "Once they heard the explosion, they were there. Because my husband was thrown out due to the pressure, they just readily picked him up and took him. They're definitely heroes in the community and we're lucky to have them."

Cmdr. Trent Hesslink, Albuquerque's commanding officer, commended his Sailors for their actions.

"They did exactly what we hope all our Sailors would do in a situation like this," he said. "They responded without hesitation. It's because of their actions that these two people are still alive today."

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