Four Massachusetts Army National Guard soldiers are being credited for saving the life of an 87-year-old woman in the woods of New Jersey.
Jeanette Haskins, of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey said she was headed to her birthday party at her daughter's in Maryland when she made a wrong turn on the way. She ended up getting stuck in the woods outside Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst where soldiers from G Company 186th Brigade Support Battalion, Massachusetts Army National Guard were training.
Staff Sgt. Dana Francis and Sgt. Tommy Coppola were looking for a place to conduct recovery training when they veered off the base themselves and discovered Haskin's Cadillac stuck in the sand.
"We were just going down different spots looking for spots to train our younger soldiers," said Sgt. Francis. "I made the decision to go through a tank trail in the woods instead of the regular route back."
It was at that time when Sgt. Francis and Sgt. Coppola noticed Haskins' car with all four doors open in an area of the training base. Inside the car, the elderly woman was slumped over.
"We had no idea how long she was out there, we thought we were walking up to the worst situation," said Sgt. Coppola.
Haskins had been there for two days with no food, a dead cell phone and only a small amount of rainwater she collected.
The soldiers immediately went to get the help of two other Massachusetts soldiers who are medics, Spc. John Shively and Pfc. Aaron Amardey-Wellington.
"She's a trooper. I'm amazed that she made it," said Sgt. Coppola.
She was severely dehydrated with signs of heat stroke but the two medics with the guards were able to help. After a brief stay at an area hospital, Haskins was ready to celebrate her big day.
"Being 87 and being out there for that long time she must be really healthy to survive that long duration and we are really glad we were able to help and she was able to celebrate her birthday," said Pfc. Aaron Amardey-Wellington.
Unfortunately, Haskins had her cat with her at the time and told the soldiers that she decided to let him go in hopes he would find his own water and food.