Virginia Member Honored for Valor in Burning Vehicle Rescue
Capt. David G. Disselkamp of Virginia Wing’s Southside Composite Squadron has been honored with Civil Air Patrol’s Silver Medal of Valor for his actions in removing an elderly man from an overturned vehicle in flames on a highway off-ramp in June 2021.
Disselkamp was driving on World War II Veterans Memorial Highway in Midlothian, Virginia, on June 28 when he spotted the vehicle lying on its side in a high-speed blind curve, then immediately pulled over to assess the situation.
Without hesitation he sprinted across several lanes of traffic to the burning vehicle, inside which an elderly man was trapped. After dodging oncoming traffic, Disselkamp directed an onlooker to alert motorists entering the off-ramp to be aware of the situation. He then began working to free the trapped driver, only to find that the vehicle’s badly collapsed roof prevented him from pulling the jagged windshield out far enough with his bare hands to create sufficient space to accommodate the man.
Making matters worse, fuel began leaking into Disselkamp’s immediate area as the flames grew. Even though he suffers from a severe spinal injury and the vehicle was filled with broken glass and lined with sharp metal edges, Disselkamp climbed through the passenger-side window and lifted the man out.
Disselkamp then escorted the man to a safer area, assessed his injuries, and remained until emergency responders arrived.
He is the Southside squadron’s deputy commander for cadets.