Kentucky Air Guardsman always a defender, on duty and off

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Desiree W. Moye
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Staff Sgt. Kenneth Soto, a Kentucky Air National Guardsman who is deployed here as a security response force leader for the 387th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron, was awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal for heroism Jan. 21.

Soto was presented with the medal at an undisclosed air base for intervening during a domestic violence incident while off duty in March 2013.

"Security forces personnel are trained to respond on and off duty to people in need," said Soto, whose home unit is the 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville, Ky. 

Soto was in his hotel room during a college band trip to Hartford, Conn., when he heard a disturbing commotion next door. He decided to intervene when he heard a young lady screaming in agony.

"I ran down the hallway to see what was up and when I found the room I knocked on the door again and again until the guy answered," he said

Being unarmed and off duty wasn't a deterrence in Soto's eyes, because gaining entry to the victim's room and confronting the perpetrator was his only option, Soto said.

"Once I actually saw the victim, it as an abysmal sight," he said. "She was unconscious and bleeding profusely."

According to the award citation, Soto forced the attacker to the ground and placed him in a subdued position before assessing the victim's injuries. He administered first aid, and safeguarded her and the scene until local authorities arrived.

Responding law enforcement noted that Soto performed admirably and potentially saved the victim's life, the citation said.

"I always mention Kenny Soto as the guy that saved my life that night," said Hannah Sanders, the victim, and Soto's good friend. "If he didn't stop it when he did, one more blow to my skull could have killed me."

Col. John Klein Jr., 386th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, lauded Soto's actions during the medal presentation.

"I am humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to pin a medal on a true hero," he said.

Lt. Col. Matthew Groves, 386th Expeditionary Operations Group deputy commander, echoed Klein's sentiment.

"His response is a beacon of courage," said Groves, who is also deployed from Kentucky's 123rd Airlift Wing. "It was simply heroic of him, and I'm proud to serve with him here and back home."

Soto, however, doesn't agree with their description of him as a hero. He sees the sequence of events as simply a reflection of his security forces training.

"I know for a fact that if any of the defenders I have had the privilege to serve with were there, it would have gone down the same way," he said.