Airman honored for heroism saves child on his flight to pick up the award

Airman honored for series of heroic actions

U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Kenneth O'Brien always seems to be at the right place at the right time. He is a special ops pararescueman based in Japan. As "CBS Evening News" anchor Norah O'Donnell reports, it's a dangerous job and O'Brien is always busy.

While serving on the president's security detail during a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, he saved a civilian from a burning car. Last year, he helped lead the rescue of the Thai soccer team trapped in a flooded cave. He also saved a fellow rescuer, a Thai Navy SEAL.

In a video released by DVIDS last year, O'Brien described what it was like to be a part of the rescue.

"We're all willing to put our life on the line to help these other countries out, and we have to think, you know, if it was our children, our families, we would want people to step up and help us in the same situation," O'Brien said.

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Tech. Sgt. Kenneth O'Brien Airman 1st Class Mandy Foster

For his valor, he was honored as one of the 2019 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Thirty-six airmen were considered and only 12 were selected based on leadership, job performance and personal achievements. O'Brien has plenty of those.

Just two weeks ago, while flying home for that award, an infant on the plane lost consciousness. O'Brien lept into action yet again, clearing the child's blocked airway and saving another life. His commander, Lieutenant General Jim Slife, posted that he can't decide if O'Brien is a "superman or mayhem," the guy from insurance commercials. We'll just call him a hero.