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NCO rescues sleeping man from hotel fire

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Beth Orlen
  • 314th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
All it took was one annoying sound to make Staff Sergeant Bobby Jones a hero. 

The 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 4 crew chief instructor was vacationing in Hot Springs, Ark., when he rescued a sleeping man from a fire recently. 

He was just getting ready for bed when he heard a faint beeping sound. 

'What is that annoying sound?' Sergeant Jones asked himself, and soon the sound became familiar - it was an old smoke detector. But looking around the hotel room, all he saw was his sleeping wife next to him. 

The sound was really close, and Sergeant Jones called down to the front office to make sure they were aware of it. They weren't, but sent a maintenance person to check it out. The former volunteer firefighter decided to meet maintenance outside to make sure everything was ok before turning in for the night. 

After stepping outside his room, Sergeant Jones heard a crackling sound and saw a glow coming from a room next to his. 

"I beat on the door and yelled fire because I knew there was a person inside," he said.
When no one answered the door, Sergeant Jones kicked in the door. There, standing next to the fire, was the occupant still groggy with sleep and demanding to know what was going on. 

Sergeant Jones didn't have time to explain, but instead took the man outside to the fresh air. After taking him out there, the man started yelling that his spouse was still inside the room and then collapsed. 

The room was filling up with smoke and other fumes, but the 373rd Airman went in again. 

After looking around, and not finding anyone, Sergeant Jones grabbed an ice bucket and dumped it on the bedspread which was on fire. (The man's wife was found later safe outside of the room.)

"I ran out to get more water, pulled the fire alarm, and went back in to throw it on the fire," he said. After running out a third time, the maintenance man came around with a fire extinguisher and put the fire out. 

"We are very grateful for his quick actions," said Gaye Hardin, Arlington Resort Hotel and Spa Administration assistant. "The guest he removed is ok, but who knows how much the outcome would have changed the longer he was in that room. ... This was a brave and selfless thing he did." 

Sergeant Jones doesn't feel like he did anything that anyone else wouldn't have done, but his wife thinks differently. 

It was because of her that Senior Master Sgt. Richard Burkett, also with the 373rd, found out about his heroic deed. 

"We were elated," he said. "So many folks go unrecognized for the things they do (because) true heroes don't seek publicity. He's truly an Ambassador in Blue." 

Sergeant Jones was a little irritated by all the attention at first, but now says he's gleaming with pride. 

Would he do it again? 

"I wouldn't even think twice." 

Editor's note: Sergeant Jones received a 314th Airlift Wing commander's coin and has been approved to receive an Air Force Commendation medal for his efforts.