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Barksdale reservist saves a life

Staff Sgt. Kenneth McMillen, (center), a structural carpenter assigned to the 307th RED HORSE Squadron, instructs a group of Airmen on proper procedures for clearing buildings during a training exercise at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 10, 2014. McMillen, who is also a Bowie County Sheriff’s deputy, has been credited with saving the life of a woman in a house fire on March 9, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeff Walston)

Staff Sgt. Kenneth McMillen, (center), a structural carpenter assigned to the 307th RED HORSE Squadron, instructs a group of Airmen on proper procedures for clearing buildings during a training exercise at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Sept. 10, 2014. McMillen, who is also a Bowie County Sheriff’s deputy, has been credited with saving the life of a woman in a house fire on March 9, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jeff Walston)

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- For the average worker, leaving the house every day doesn't lead to becoming a hero, however, for first responders that possibility is always there, as is the chance for disaster.

When Bowie County Sheriff Deputy Kenny McMillen, who is also an Air Force reservist assigned to the 307th RED HORSE at Barksdale Air Force Base started the graveyard shift on March 8, it began like any other. Within hours that would all change.

In the early morning of March 9, McMillen was dispatched through 911 to back up Deputy Michelle Carrier at a house fire.

The deputies were advised of the "possibility of two old people inside" the home.

"When the deputies arrived at the scene on Trexler Road, in the Redwater community of Northeast Texas, they found the house fully engulfed in flames and 68-year-old Dewey Melton lying nearby,” said Bowie County Sheriff James Prince. “He had been pulled out of the home by family members. The deputies were told Melton's wife, Loy Melton, was still inside the burning structure. Unfortunately, Mr. Melton was pronounced dead at the scene."

Reports show that McMillen and Carrier attempted to enter the burning house to find Mrs. Melton, but were forced out by the flames and smoke.

"Our deputies are not trained for fire rescue," said Bowie County Sheriff Capt. David Grable, a patrol captain. "They are trained to control the scene until the fire department arrives for the rescue, but sometimes it doesn't work out that way."

With seconds ticking away and no self-contained breathing apparatus available, McMillen wrapped a large piece of cloth around his head, and "dove into the residence and began to low crawl" through the inferno with Carrier holding on to his heel, using a flashlight to show the way. The two deputies made their way through the dense smoke and heat as the "fire was flashing across the ceiling."

"Once McMillen located Mrs. Melton, he pulled her from the burning structure. She was taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Both deputies suffered smoke inhalation and were hospitalized overnight," Prince said.

"I'm very proud of the job they did. McMillen knew he had to act fast and he went in there," he said.

According to Grable, McMillen has been with the Bowie County Sheriff's Office for more than 10 years and Carrier is his newest troop, with less than a year with the department.

Lt. Col. Charles B. Chapman III, the commander of the 307th RED HORSE said, "As a hard-charging member of the 307th RED HORSE Squadron, it does not surprise me in the least that staff sergeant McMillen would put his own life on the line for someone else in need. His courageous and selfless action is typical. McMillen (is) dedicated to duty and willing to sacrifice for the greater good. I am extremely proud of him."

After all was said and done, McMillen took to Facebook to explain his actions.

"We took an oath when we became peace officers in the great state of Texas, and our duty is to protect, serve, and save lives of others,” McMillen wrote. “With that being said, to me it's not about being heroic, or receiving praises or glory for the task given, it's about the oath we took. Also, the second oath I took was when I joined the Air Force and learned the core values: integrity, SERVICE BEFORE SELF, and excellence in all we do. It's not about US it's about others."

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