Pop, pop, pop… the sound of gunfire rang out at the close of the Sunday church service. One person lay dead outside. Six others were wounded. As people around him ducked for cover, Robert Engle ran toward the masked gunman.
Members of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tenn., where Engle was serving as an usher that morning, say he saved lives.
For his courageous actions on Sept. 24, 2017, Engle received a Citizen Honors award Friday at Joint Base Meyer-Henderson in Virginia, where more than two dozen Medal of Honor recipients gathered to present five awards. It was part of an annual ceremony in which the Congressional Medal of Honor Society recognizes civilians for acts of courage and selfless service.
Engle said he does not feel like a hero.
“I just reacted,” he said.
Engle said it was as if an invisible hand was pushing him forward. When he grabbed the attacker from behind, the gunman turned around and hit Engle in the head several times with a pistol. A life-and-death tussle ensued, in which Engle said the movements, in an inexplicable fashion, seemed to unfold “in slow motion but at a fast pace.” But more profound than that, he said, was the peace and calm he felt through the whole ordeal.
Engle said he remembers the gunman turning a weapon towards him. And just in the nick of time, he deflected the gun, turning it back upon the gunman as the weapon fired.[…]
Army veteran Matthew Cobos was honored for courageous acts he exhibited during a music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire, killing 58 and injuring at least 871 people.
Cobos, who left the military several months before the shooting, said he served nearly four years as a cavalry scout and “had never been so happy that I joined the Army… When the chaos happened in Vegas… definitely some training, some of the muscle memory from whatnot kicked in.”
When the first rounds of gunfire erupted, Cobos said, he ducked to the ground, pulling down a friend and others around him. A photographer nearby snapped a shot of Cobos shielding his friend with his body.
Cobos tried calling 911 to get medical personnel on the scene, but he said a couple of off-duty emergency medical technicians who were there told him “they’re not coming.” Meanwhile, he tended to people around him who had been shot.
After the episode, Cobos decided he wanted to become an EMT instead of pursuing a business degree in college. He said he’s “super excited” about becoming a first responder. “Usually when somebody calls 911 or anything like that, they’re having the worst days of their lives. And you’re the one that’s got to make it better and help them out.”