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A 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldier who pulled passengers to safety from a burning tour bus July 22 on Interstate 90 was awarded the prestigious Soldier’s Medal on Tuesday in Fort Drum’s Multipurpose Auditorium.

Sgt. Jacob J. Perkins, 28, a forward observer with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, stood tall before the loud cheers and applause of his fellow Soldiers, his squadron, brigade and division command groups, New York State Police officials and a Canadian family he helped save from the fire.

“This is a momentous occasion,” said Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division (LI) commander. “If there were bullets flying and it was the Taliban, Sergeant Perkins would be getting the Medal of Honor.

“This medal is a big deal,” he said. “It is only the second one in the last five years given out in the 10th Mountain Division and (the second in the history) of the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry (Regiment).

“This is in fact uncommon. (Perkins) chose to do something that most other normal human beings would not do. He ran into the back of a burning bus and saved people even though he stood a 50-50 shot of dying himself,” Milley added.

Perkins was on leave after midnight July 21 when he began a 1,000 mile-plus trek to southern Missouri to celebrate his daughter Cadence’s fifth birthday. While westbound on I-90 around 1:30 a.m., Perkins approached a fireball on the opposite side of the thruway, where a tractor-trailer had rear-ended a Canadian tour bus and buried itself halfway in.

Source: Paul Steven Ghiringhelli for U.S. Army.

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