It was around 2 p.m. on May 1, and Tech Sgt. Jacob McCloud was happy to be leaving Concord from his job at nearby Hanscom Air Force Base. He could avoid the usual rush hour traffic backup at Monument Square, he thought.
But he didn’t get very far.
As he drove down Lowell Road, the Jeep in front of him took a sharp left, plowed through the guardrail and hit a tree before stopping on a steep slope in a water-filled culvert connecting the Assabet River and Macone Pond. McCloud said the driver’s head was wedged in the roof rails inside the Jeep. She was unconscious, her skull fractured.
“I saw her head stuck and pulled her out,” said McCloud at a small July 14 ceremony at Hanscom, where Commander Taona Enriquez presented him with the Air and Space Commendation Medal and citation for bravery, selflessness and heroism.
When he saw the Jeep go off the road, McCloud’s Air Force training in “Tactical Combat Casualty Care” kicked in — as did his previous work with the Redding, California Fire Department.
After securing the driver’s badly wounded head to the seat of the car, he flagged down a car with an off-duty nurse at the wheel. The two of them tended to the injured woman while summoning the Concord police and fire departments, who responded within minutes. The driver was ultimately airlifted to a trauma center, the Air Force said.
Concord Fire Chief Tom Judge and Lt. Eric Pelkey attended McCloud’s ceremony. Judge said McCloud was so reluctant to call attention to himself that he felt obliged to write a letter to the commander recounting McCloud’s bravery and selflessness. Judge presented McCloud with a framed copy of the letter at the medal ceremony.
“I laid out what [McCloud] did,” said Judge. “It was significant enough, and I knew Jacob would downplay it.” He added that the woman was lucky McCloud happened along when he did, because the Jeep was not visible from the road.
Enriquez said she was “honored to present ” such a medal, her first time doing so, but she wanted to talk more about “who Jacob is,” which wasn’t in the language of the official citation.
“It was an act of doing right when no one is looking,” said Enriquez as McCloud’s wife and two daughters looked on. “You didn’t think twice. You didn’t know who was in the car, or what was at the bottom of that hill. You acted without concern for your own safety until Concord police and fire arrived. That is who you are.”
After receiving the medal and citation, McCloud brushed aside the accolades to ask Judge if the woman had survived. Judge nodded.
“Sweet,” McCloud said.