WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Two Fort Drum Soldiers sprang into action Wednesday night when they spotted a car that was about to go up in flames.
"I had never seen that much smoke in my life in one small area," said Captain Phil Lakin, 1st Brigade Combat Team.
He's talking about the scene Wednesday night at Exit 45 off I-81 in the town of Watertown. Lakin and 1st Lieutenant Rachel Mingo, both 1st Brigade Combat Team soldiers on Fort Drum, were driving home from post when the saw the smoke and both pulled over.
"I didn't really think about it, I just reacted. I saw someone who might need help might need assistance, so I just reacted and made sure everyone was okay," said Lakin.
"No one else seemed to be moving and everything kind of just seemed to be at standstill, so it was just weird not seeing any other emergency response there yet, so I think that's what enticed me to get out," said Mingo.
Lakin and Mingo sprang into action to make sure the driver of the vehicle was okay. That driver also turned out to be a Fort Drum soldier, who like them, is part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team.
But the smoke got worse
"I see an open flame erupt form the vehicle from the engine and so I started yelling, 'We need to get back, we need to get back,'" said Lakin.
But the driver wanted to get belongs out of his car.
"I was just really thinking about just grabbing as much as I could and then once that was done just getting him and getting us away," said Mingo.
Lakin and Mingo successfully made sure no one was injured and waited with their fellow solider until his wife and first responders arrived. Town of Watertown Fire Department got to the scene and was able douse the flames in minutes.
But for Lakin and Mingo, their act of kindness is all part of a day's work.
“When you put on the uniform. You just have to make sure you’re always ready and willing to help out when necessary. That’s part of what it means to serve,” said Lakin.