Robins NCO Earns Airman’s Medal for Heroic Efforts at 2017 Las Vegas Shooting
Wednesday, October 7th, 2020
Tech. Sgt. Jordan Benson, an aircraft battle damage repair technician in the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, was awarded the Airman’s Medal Oct. 2, at the Museum of Aviation.
One of the most prestigious decorations awarded to U.S. Armed Forces members, the medal is presented to military members who, while serving in any capacity with the Air Force after the date of the award's authorization, has distinguished oneself by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of one’s own life but not involving actual combat.
Benson has served in his unit at Robins for more than two years, performing aircraft battle damage repair on C-130, F-15, C-5, C-17 and HH-60G aircraft, as well as serving on depot field teams that work with engineers to repair major structural damages and crash damage disabled aircraft recovery.
This is the first time in Benson’s nearly 12-year Air Force career to receive a distinguished award like the Airman’s Medal.
“When my supervisor had explained to me that I was going to be nominated for the Airman’s Medal, I asked him what that medal was,” he said. “As I researched the medal, I thought that would be an awesome award to receive.”
The 31-year-old San Bernardino, California, native never imagined a weekend getaway would lead to a life-changing experience, but it did.
Benson and his wife of 11 years, Magali, along with 17 family members and friends, were in Las Vegas to attend the three-day Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in the fall of 2017.
Benson’s other friends and family were scattered among the crowd.
The last night of the concert, as Country Music Artist Jason Aldean performed on stage just 20 feet to 30 feet from where Benson, his wife and a couple their friends stood, Benson heard a loud sound.
“My initial thoughts were that someone on the Las Vegas Strip had shot off some sort of fireworks,” he said. “When the second round of shots were fired, I immediately realized that someone was shooting.”
As the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history unfolded around Benson, he began to feel anxious, nervous, and scared.
As concertgoers were running and screaming all around him, Benson remained calm and used his military training to help his loved ones and strangers near him survive the incident.
“After realizing it was an active shooter, I immediately shoved my wife and friends to the ground and tried to find the best place to take cover,” he said. “After the first long burst of shots stopped, I got my wife and friends to take cover under a set of bleachers that were behind us.”
As Benson set out to help others, Magali begged her husband not to go back into danger.
Benson’s response, “It’s my duty to help others.”
Magali prayed and tried to have faith her husband would return to their family safely.
Benson put his self aid and buddy care training into action as he reached a woman who had been shot.
The Airman applied direct pressure to her gunshot wound and helped her husband get her to a medical tent at the concert venue.
Benson aided about 30 more people, several of whom were lost and confused, to the nearest exit away from the danger.
The father of two said the experience taught him a lot.
“I want to better enjoy life with my wife and kids, knowing that something like this can happen at any time,” he said.
The mass shooting has also shown Benson the value of his military training in everyday life.
“All my years of being in the Air Force and having to take SABC classes, I used to think I will probably never have to use any of this training on an actual victim,” he said. “I am grateful that I received this training and was able to help as many people as I could.”
Benson said he takes his military training much more seriously now.
The technical sergeant said he is honored to receive such a high award.
“I was trying to help anyone and everyone that I could at the time,” Benson said. “So to be presented with a prestigious medal such as the Airman’s Medal is truly a blessing and honor.”