It’s a fairly common occurrence in Army circles: A young hard-charger goes beyond the call of duty, receives an award several months later, credits his training, earns praise from a senior officer and smiles for a few photos.
Usually, though, the awardee is at least old enough to drive.
Jacob Staggs, 14, received a Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service last month at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, for keeping a level head in a situation that could’ve been disastrous: He and his father, Lt. Col, Robert Staggs, were hiking through the Dragoon Mountains in December when the officer cramped up and began feeling chest pains, according to an Army news release.
When the symptoms didn’t let up after a brief rest, the hikers began the three-mile trip down 6,000 feet of mountain. At the time, neither knew the senior Staggs had suffered a heart attack. The junior Staggs shouldered his father’s pack and talked him through a slow, painful descent.
““He was encouraging me the entire way out,” Lt. Col. Staggs said in the release. “Without that encouragement, that would have been tough. If I had to rest, he would wait on me and then encourage me to get back up.”
The pair eventually reached their car and the officer, who works at Huachuca’s Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center, managed to drive them home before calling emergency services.
Both father and son had completed wilderness survival training, the senior Staggs said in the release, which included what to do in just such an instance.
“It’s weird knowing that I did something so major and that I possibly saved his life,” Jacob said in the release.