Angoon guardsman honored for saving life

Posted: Thursday, August 14, 2003

Randall J. Gamble said he didn't think twice about doing what was needed to save a friend's life eight years ago. Others never stopped thinking about it.

"I just reacted," he said from his Angoon home Wednesday, a week after Brig. Gen. Craig Campbell awarded him the Army's Soldier's Medal during a ceremony attended by most of Angoon's residents.

The Soldier's Medal was authorized to recognize heroic, life-saving actions by soldiers that involve the voluntary risk of life other than armed conflict with an enemy.

"It hasn't sunk in," said Gamble, an Alaska Army National Guard corporal, said. "I know it's a great honor, not only for myself, but for my family and my community."

On April 8, 1995, after Gamble was released from his weekend Guard training, he attended a basketball game at the community school. When the lights went out in the gymnasium, Gamble went outside to investigate. He saw Johnny Hunter, a local repairman, had climbed a ladder to reset the breaker to a generator.

As Hunter leaned forward, he fell into the 7,000-volt main power line, leaving him burned, unconscious and not breathing.

Gamble climbed the rickety ladder, pulled Hunter away and administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation for 45 minutes. He was inches from the power lines, according to the information provided by the National Guard.

Gamble then guided the injured man down the ladder to medical attention.

"When somebody's hurt here, everybody's involved," Gamble said Wednesday.

He said Hunter died of cancer a couple of years ago.

Long ago, Gamble was honored with the Valley Forge Cross for Heroism and received a State of Alaska Humanitarian Award.

Campbell, adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard, described Gamble's actions as "a shining example of what being a citizen-soldier is all about, what selfless service to your community and your fellow man means."



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