Recruiter Saves Life at St. Louis Mardi Gras

  • Published
  • By Randy Martin, AFRS Public Affairs

It is not that unusual to hear someone say a military recruiter has changed a life, but it is uncommon to hear of a recruiter who saved one.

According to his longtime friend, a fellow Airman and eyewitness that is exactly what Staff Sgt. Jeremy Reynolds, an enlisted accessions recruiter from the 345th Recruiting Squadron, did for a man at a party in St. Louis, Feb. 26, 2022.  

“There were thousands of people packed into the tent enjoying festivities,” said Tech. Sgt. Willie Sloan, a training noncommissioned officer with the 618th Air Operations Center at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.

Along with Reynolds, Sloan was off-duty and helping security in a VIP-area during St. Louis’s 43rd annual Soulard Mardi Gras. COVID-19 forced last year’s celebration to be cancelled so its return to an indoor entertainment venue on a frigid afternoon left the tent party jam-packed.

Inside, former NBA player Shaquille O’Neal served up dance music as DJ for throngs of costume and bead-adorned guests including the city’s mayor.

Suddenly a commotion erupted that caught the Airmen’s attention. An incident broke out and a crowd formed around the victim.

“I ran over to the unconscious young man who was laying on the ground with a crowd of people around him,” said Reynolds, whose office is located in nearby Marion, Illinois.

Seeing that he wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, Reynolds went into action. Witnesses told Reynolds and Sloan that another person, who was never found, had thrown the victim down and the impact caused a head injury. Reynolds said he applied CPR for two minutes.

“At that point, (the victim) took in this large gasp of breath,” Reynolds said. “That’s when I knew he was breathing again. He was still unresponsive, so I rolled him over on his side so he wouldn’t have a seizure and swallow his tongue.”

An emergency medical team arrived but the crowd made transporting an injured man by stretcher nearly impossible.

“Staff Sergeant Reynolds carried him to the ambulance so the EMTs could continue to assist the individual,” Sloan said. “He didn’t hesitate, and even though we’ve been through crazy things together, it made me proud to watch him take action.”

Hours later one of the EMTs found Reynolds, congratulated him and shook his hand.

“He told me I saved the young man’s life,” Reynolds said.

When asked how he knew what to do, Reynolds credited his military experience in the Services career field and the skills he learned as a prerequisite for working inside an Air Force Fitness Center.

“Everything happened so fast I didn’t have time to think in the moment. I just reacted.”

While he never met the man whose life he was credited with saving, Reynolds was proud and grateful to have been at the right place, at the right time to save a life.

Before the Mardi Gras event, Reynolds, a Chicago native, was living out his dream with just two years in recruiting.

“I love the fact that I can change a person’s life,” he said “The area I recruit out of is very rural and there’s not a lot for kids to look forward to in life. That’s where I come in. I show them what I’ve done in my career, where I’ve been in the world and all the amazing people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. It’s flat out amazing.”

Reynolds credited his own recruiter for making him want to be one himself.

“My recruiter was amazing and I always wanted to be that person to change a life like he did for me,” Reynolds said.

As for the character required to save a life, Reynolds reflected on family and training.

“My health was not a concern at that moment. All I knew is that there was a human being laying on the ground not breathing. I did exactly what my father, Jerome Reynolds, and the United States Air Force trained me to do, which is if you see someone that needs help, be that help.”