BAUMHOLDER, Germany, Jan. 3, 2013 – An early morning drive here turned into a nightmare for Heather Majorwitz and her two children, Kaitie and Bret.
They were on their way to school recently when their car hit a patch of ice and started to skid across the road toward an oncoming bus. Majorwitz, a librarian at a local elementary school, swerved to avoid the bus and slid off the road, rolling her car.
"One minute we were on the road and the next we were hanging from our seatbelts," Majorwitz recalled during a recent recognition ceremony held at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder here.
The car’s wheels were still turning when a group of soldiers from the 421st Multifunctional Medical Battalion came upon the scene. Without hesitation, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Vladimir Sequera and three other soldiers stopped their Humvee and dashed out to help. The children were already making their way out of the car’s shattered back window when the soldiers approached.
Sequera and the other soldiers, Sgt. 1st Class Winston Smith, Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Lehman and Sgt. Cheryl Henneberry quickly brought the children to safety and wrapped them with their jackets to stay warm. By then, Majorwitz was trying to get out of the car and Sequera and the other soldiers turned their attention to helping her.
"When we saw the vehicle we immediately pulled to the side. We all had the same thought. There's somebody in the vehicle," Sequera said. "We didn't know if they were American or German. We just wanted to help.”
"I just remember the car rolling and lots of glass. I felt blessed to walk away from the wreck but I also felt really blessed that we had soldiers there that would go above and beyond and help us. You guys are my heroes,” Majorwitz said.
"I'm glad that we were there to help out. I don't think it's a hero thing. I think it's a human behavior that we help each other out. It is part of what we do in the military," Sequera said.
Madeleine Dwoiakowski, public affairs officer for the Baumholder garrison, drives the same route on her way to work.
"I saw soldiers and hoped that none of our guys were injured, not knowing that the soldiers were actually assisting on the scene," Dwoiakowski said. "I then saw the car and it looked like it had gone through a press. They were extremely fortunate to walk away with no injuries and they were also equally fortunate that the soldiers were there almost immediately to help."
For Majorwitz, it was the scariest moment she's experienced as a mother.
"I wasn't sure if the children were OK. Everybody said they were OK but even at the hospital I wasn't sure,” she said. “My little boy gets anxious about things and I was worried that he'd have this anxiety and wouldn't want to ride in a car again.” Majorwitz explained that they had a flat tire once and for the next year her son checked the tires before getting in the car.
But her son “was fine, he was a trooper," Majorwitz said. Turning to Sequera, she added, "I think he was fine because you guys were there immediately. There wasn't that second to even worry about it because we were taken care of right away."
Later, Majorwitz, called her 15-year-old daughter in the states and told her why she enjoys working with soldiers and their families.
"This is why I do what I do to serve these guys, because they're there and they step in -- no matter what,” Majorwitz said. “It's automatic, because that's who they are. This makes me even more proud to be able to teach the kids of our soldiers because I know that they're out there taking care of everybody else."
Majorwitz expressed her gratitude to the soldiers who rescued her and her children.
"I think that's why you are soldiers,” Majorwitz said, as she fought back tears. “We could have died but we didn't. We were very fortunate all around so I just want to thank you."
Majorwitz then embraced Sequera and repeated her appreciation for their help.
"You guys are my heroes," she said.