AFRL engineer earns valor award for quick act of bravery
By Holly Jordan, AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate
/ Published December 08, 2015
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- In recognition of acts of bravery that prevented harm to a fellow citizen, Mr. Alan Fletcher of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate was recently honored with the Command Civilian Award for Valor.
On July 18, 2014, Mr. Fletcher, a Principal Materials Engineer, was traveling by automobile on a temporary duty assignment when two cars and a semitrailer were involved in a traffic accident in front of his vehicle. Although Mr. Fletcher stopped safely, he quickly noticed that one of the other drivers was exiting her vehicle and wandering into traffic on the dark highway.
Making a quick and conscious decision, Mr. Fletcher sprang into action, placing himself in front of the driver and persuading her to return to safety. It was then that he was suddenly struck by a van, which proceeded to hit the driver's vehicle.
Although he doesn't remember the details that follow, from police reports and eyewitness accounts, Mr. Fletcher learned that he was hit by the van, thrown onto the windshield, and eventually thrown under the vehicle, causing major injuries to the entire right side of his body. He regained consciousness 12 hours after the accident with a shattered right leg, elbow, dislocated arm, and shattered facial bones.
Following four weeks of hospitalization, multiple reconstructive surgeries, and ongoing physical therapy, Mr. Fletcher still feels the effects of the accident and has not regained full use of his arm, although most of his mobility has returned. He says his recovery is a long and ongoing process that results in small but encouraging improvements along the way.
Despite the lingering effects of the accident, Mr. Fletcher says if put in the same situation again, he would do the same thing.
"It was one of those decisions made at the spur of the moment," he says. "I'm at peace that I made that decision, and I know my wife is in agreement, too."
Mr. Fletcher's quick response ensured the safety of everyone else involved in the accident and almost surely avoided further injuries to the person he led to safety.
"The action he took to protect a complete stranger is a true measure of his selfless and caring nature," says Mr. Thomas Lockhart, Director of the AFRL Materials and Manufacturing Directorate, who, along with Lt. Col. Frederick Hunt, presented the award to Mr. Fletcher. "He is a shining example of one of AFRL's finest, not just for the quality of his work, but for the quality of his character as well."