This week’s plummeting stock market merits non-financial commentary to divert attention away from our shrinking retirement accounts. Instead, today’s focus is specific to six men and two women who have been jettisoned from obscurity to meteoric fame. The male heroes diverted two tragedies to save many unsuspecting lives, while the two women shattered a barrier that 2,248 men had failed to achieve.
Ironically, all three of these occurrences occurred on Friday, Aug. 21. The first was in France, the next at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the third was on I-275 encircling Cincinnati. The one with closest proximity will receive the first spotlight.
Sam Haynes, a 26-year-old construction worker, was probably anticipating a relaxing Friday night and upcoming weekend. Instead, this Amelia, Ohio, resident has become a YouTube sensation from his video of pursuing and finally stopping an erratic female driver who was impaired from a lethal mix of heroin and meth.
Sandra Harris, 43, of Mount Orab, Ohio, was headed east on I-275 when she began driving onto the grassy median, back onto the pavement, and drifting between lanes. Following from behind, Haynes gave chase and recorded the incident. After Haynes stopped her in the median, Harris passed out with her head against the steering wheel.
Haynes’ YouTube video has received 1.3 million views since he posted it during the weekend. Harris sits in a Hamilton County jail awaiting a court hearing on charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and marked lane violations.
Ironically, Haynes’ sister, Lindsey, was hit head-on and severely injured in 2009 by an impaired driver using heroin. After months in a coma, and six years later, she is still unable to walk. “I did not want to see anything happen like it did to my sister,” Haynes said. Who knows how many lives Haynes saved with his bravery to intercept an impaired driver on a busy interstate highway?
Next: Four American tourists diverted a potential disaster late Friday afternoon on the high-speed Thylas Train between Amsterdam and Paris. High school friends from California, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone, all jumped into action, along with fellow dual American/French citizen Mark Moogalian and British national Chris Norman, to disarm a passenger who exited a train’s bathroom with two firearms, nine magazines of ammunition, and a box cutter.
Moogalian was shot in the back, while Stone received severe knife wounds. The three friends and the Brit all received France’s highest honor earlier this week, the Legion Award. Presented by French President Francois Holland, he stated: “By their courage they saved lives, and gave us an example of what is possible to do in these types of situations.” Moogalian is still hospitalized and will receive his award after his recuperation.
Upon hearing a shot fired, which wounded Moogalian as he single-handedly attempted to disarm the perpetrator, Skarlatos said to Stone, “Let’s go!” Their enthusiasm and those words are eerie reminders of “Let’s roll!” which were the last words spoken by Todd Beamer as he led a group of passengers and two flight attendants into action on the doomed United flight 93 during 9/11 that crashed in the Pennsylvania countryside.
The final two “faces of courage” this week belong to 1st Lt. Shaye Haver and Capt. Kristen Griest. They became the first women to receive their “Ranger tabs” in graduation ceremonies last Friday at Fort Benning. When the grueling training began, 381 candidates started, which included 19 women, but only Haver and Griest completed the course, along with 94 other male graduates. Of the 4,057 candidates who attempted this rigorous training in 2014, only 1,609 were successful, with all of those candidates being men.
Per other media accounts of the grueling training, the candidates had to achieve physical fitness levels that included 59 sit-ups, 49 push-ups, six chin-ups, a swim test, pass a land navigation test, complete a 12-mile foot march in three hours, endure numerous obstacle courses, a four-day mountain expedition, successfully complete three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters, and 27 days of mock combat patrols. There was also mention of days in the swamp by one of the female graduates that she deemed her “least favorite.”
Way to go, women! It is another achievement that had been previously out of reach. And a sincere “thank you” to the male heroes who risked their lives to save others.
Mariann Main is a Delaware native and journalism graduate of The Ohio State University. She has a master’s degree in counseling from Georgia State University, and is licensed as a counselor in both Ohio and Georgia. She can be reached with commentary or questions at MariannMain@gmail.com.