FORT BENNING, GA (SFC Noggle) – On the afternoon of July 11, at a local resident community pool area, Spc. Luke Smith and some friends were cleaning up after hosting a barbecue with fellow Rangers and their Families.
As they were taking boxes back to their vehicles, Smith and fellow Ranger Sgt. Khali Pegues heard a scream and cry for help. A young child, approximately 6-years-old, had fallen into the pool and drowned.
“We heard a woman scream and some commotion from another party,” said Pegues of the 75th Ranger Regiment. “I grabbed Smith to head over there, because I knew he had extensive training in CPR and life-guard saving techniques.”
Smith, a native of North East, Maryland, served in the Boy Scouts of America before joining the Army in 2011. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout as well as earning the Life-Saving Merit Badge. Though he is not current according to Boys Scouts of America guidelines, Smith had extensive training in performing CPR.
“We got over there and then I went into a tunnel vision,” said Smith of the 75th Ranger Regiment. “As soon as I saw the child, I immediately asked everyone around if anyone was a current life-guard or medical provider. No one responded.”
Smith and another Ranger, Sgt. Brian Miller, assessed that the child was unconscious, had no pulse, swollen abdominal region and blue lips, and then immediately begun starting the CPR process. As he began the chest compression, Smith called for the child’s father to begin rescue breathing.
He instructed the father to do half-breaths, so the child’s lungs would not over expand. After the second cycle of the CPR process, Smith began fearing the worse.
“As I was giving her chest compressions, I was staring her in the face and praying,” Smith said. “Please God; let me save this little girl.”
It was then during the third cycle of chest compressions and rescue breaths that the child woke up in a jolt. She began to expel water from her system. Smith leaned her forward and began to smack her back to help clear out more water.
Smith, relieved at that point and thankful his prayers had been answered, then turned and looked at the father to say, “she’s going to be okay.”
“Smith held his composure throughout the whole process and took charge of the situation,” Pegues said. “No questions asked, he didn’t hesitate at all. He snapped to it, and immediately did what he had to do.”
As they moved the little girl to the entrance of the pool, the local fire department arrived along with an emergency medical technician. They assessed the child and brought her to the nearby medical facility for follow-on treatment. One of the firefighters approached Smith to shake his hand and credited him for saving her life.
‘It was amazing to see what he did,” said Pegues, who is also Smith’s supervisor. “I kept looking over at [my] wife and to fight back the tears. That girl was not breathing for a few minutes and we didn’t know how long she was under water.”
Pegues describes Smith as a confident Ranger and very knowledgeable in his job. He recalls attending a local event with retired Col. Ralph Puckett to honor Boys Scouts of Columbus. During this event, he gained a newfound respect for Eagle Scouts and the training they are required to perform.
“I told Smith a while ago after attending the event that I gained a lot of respect because of what he had to go through,” Pegues said. “It didn’t surprise me at all what he did for that girl, I knew he could handle the situation.”
Smith, like all Rangers, doesn’t view himself as a hero or someone worthy of praise.
“I just did what anyone else would have done in that situation,” Smith said. “I did what I was supposed to do. If I wasn’t there, someone else would have done it. I do not feel like a hero.”