US soldiers honored in Germany after heroic highway rescue: "You saved people's lives"

Zwickau, Germany - US soldiers are making a big difference abroad, as they stepped in to help after a major accident took its toll. Now, they are being honored for their quick action and saving lives.

US Staff Sergeant Joseph Williams (l.) received an honor from Zwickau Police Chief Dirk Lichtenberger on Wednesday.
US Staff Sergeant Joseph Williams (l.) received an honor from Zwickau Police Chief Dirk Lichtenberger on Wednesday.  © Maik Börner

The Zwickau Police Department in Germany honored six US soldiers on Wednesday for their bravery.

On May 22, 2023, a Fiat driver crashed into the end of a traffic jam on the major A72 highway near Plauen, Germany. Four cars were destroyed and five victims were injured, some seriously.

The soldiers honored – Private Isaac Salsbery (20), and Sergeants Joseph Williams (44), Brandon Williams (27), Nicolas Gomez (23), Jarrett Long (25), Ulises Hernandez (25) – were members of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment from Vilseck in Bavaria, and came to the ceremony from a NATO exercise in Poland. US Consul David T. Panetti from Leipzig was also in attendance.

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At the time of the accident, the military members recalled witnesses walking on the highway and "calling for help."

Gomez said he and his comrades didn't think twice and jumped out of their vehicles towards the wreckage. What they saw shocked them.

"Even though we train for war, it was a hard job getting the injured out of their cars," Gomez said. "The VW driver was particularly bad."

(From l. to r.) Zwickau Police Chief Dirk Lichtenberger (l.) with honorees Private First Class Isaac Salsbery, Sergeants Ulises Hernandez, Jarrett Long, and Nicolas Gomez, as well as US Consul David T. Panetti.
(From l. to r.) Zwickau Police Chief Dirk Lichtenberger (l.) with honorees Private First Class Isaac Salsbery, Sergeants Ulises Hernandez, Jarrett Long, and Nicolas Gomez, as well as US Consul David T. Panetti.  © Maik Börner

US soldiers spring into action after accident on A72 in Germany

The A72 highway accident last year saw five people injured, as US soldiers stepped in to provide first aid.
The A72 highway accident last year saw five people injured, as US soldiers stepped in to provide first aid.  © Polizei Zwickau

As Police Chief Dirk Lichtenberger honored the Americans, he called them "visiting friends."

"This first aid was also a sign of friendship," he added.

Consul Panetti was deeply moved: "What you did was more than what a soldier does. It was something people do."

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Traffic police head Steffen Döbrich also celebrated the group: "You saved people's lives that day."

"Thank you," Command Sergeant Major Dennis Doyle said in German on behalf of those rescued.

After both countries' national anthems were played, the honored guests visited with police and went to the local August Horch Museum.

Cover photo: Maik Börner, Polizei Zwickau

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