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Posted 8/7/2018

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By Jess Levenson
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Army civilians live by Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. These values encourage Army civilians to be ready to help in a moment’s notice, on or off duty. This summer, two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civilians from Buffalo District demonstrated their commitment to the Army way by helping people in their hour of deepest need.


Derrick Banning

Derrick Banning, Buffalo District survey technician, was finishing soundings (water depth surveys) out in Conneaut, Ohio on July 17, 2018 when he seized the opportunity to save someone’s life.

“We had finished hydrographic surveys at our project areas and were bringing our boat off the water,” he said. “Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone flailing.”

Banning looked over and saw an 80-year-old woman holding a boat’s stern line as the driver accidentally veered away in the wrong direction. Instead of dropping it, she desperately held onto the line, which pulled her off balance. She fell into the water.

“I waved off my boat operator,” Banning said.  

He ran to the top of the wooden dock and heard the woman yell for help two feet below. She sank immediately after.

 “I laid down on the dock,” Banning recalled. “I grabbed her arm and tried to pull her up without causing an injury.”

Banning held her upper body above the surface of the water.

“It was like a movie scene where the victim is going down and their eyes are looking up at you helplessly,” he said.

A second passerby suddenly appeared beside Derrick and helped the woman stay afloat.

“I asked the people on the boat to throw a flotation device,” said Banning. “I then looped it around one of her arms, put my hand underneath her armpit and pulled her up.”

The woman was shaken, but she walked off the dock to her car and thanked the two men. Banning and the other good Samaritan parted ways. Derrick returned to his boat and guided it in.

“I didn’t stop to think,” he reflected. “I just reacted.”

“Luckily, I had just completed the boat operator certification course taught by Marty Crossen and Jay Miller here at Buffalo District,” said Banning. “One of the things we covered was how to get someone out of the water. I feel really good that I learned from the training and was able to help someone.”


Jean Brockner

Jean Brockner, Buffalo District procurement analyst, was aboard United Airlines flight number 282 leaving Sacramento, Calif. to Chicago on the morning of June 24, 2018 when an emergency situation arose 20,000 feet above ground.

Two hours into the flight, a call came out over the speaker system asking if there was a doctor onboard.

“I stood up, went to the front and asked the head flight attendant what the problem was,” said Brockner.

The attendant replied that the captain needed to speak with her. He asked who she was.

“’Jean Brockner with the West Fall’s Fire Company EMT outside of Buffalo, New York,” Brockner replied.

The captain then asked Brockner to assist with a patient in first class who was having medical problems.

“The patient was an 82-year-old person and had difficulty breathing,” Brockner said. “I asked the flight attendant if she had oxygen.”

The flight attendant brought up a bottle of oxygen, and Brockner hooked it up to the patient. She then assessed the patient’s blood pressure, pulse, respiration and other vital signs. At this time, the captain stated he had a medical doctor on the phone.

“I had the flight attendant relay the patient’s vital signs to the doctor every five minutes,” Brockner said.

The doctor ordered to give the patient nitroglycerin. Brockner administered it to the patient. Within 15 minutes, there was a positive change in blood pressure and pulse, but the patient still had problems breathing.

“I looked at the oxygen bottle. It was almost depleted,” said Brockner.

The attendant brought out a few more bottles, and Jean continued trying to help the patient.

The captain came out. He stated that medical control declared Brockner in charge of the plane.

“How far are we from Chicago?” Brockner asked.

“An hour and a half,” answered the captain.  

Jean explained the situation: the oxygen would run out soon, and the patient will be under tremendous stress.

“Let’s get the patient down,” she advised.

The captain agreed and made an announcement to the passengers that the plane was making a diversion to Kansas City, Missouri for an emergency landing due to a medical emergency. 

The plane arrived at the gate and emergency personnel rushed in. They promptly took the patient away along with the patient’s spouse.

“The captain thanked me for being on this plane and helping,” said Brockner.  “As I turned around and started to go back to my seat, the passengers started clapping, saying good job and thank you.”


With their heroic acts, Jean Brockner and Derrick Banning reflect the Army’s culture, character and core values. People who know the meaning of selfless service do not always receive the recognition they deserve. The Buffalo District is proud to have employees like Brockner and Banning that can inspire us all.


The Army Civilian Corps Creed

I am an Army civilian – a member of the Army team.

I am dedicated to our Army, our Soldiers and civilians.

I will always support the mission.

I provide stability and continuity during war and peace.

I support and defend the Constitution of the United States and consider it an honor to serve our nation and our Army.

I live the Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.

I am an Army civilian.

army values Banning Brockner Buffao District Corps of Engineers USACE water safety