POSTED: 9:10 a.m. HST, Nov 23, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 9:42 a.m. HST, Nov 23, 2012
A Schofield soldier in Afghanistan received a Thanksgiving call from the commander-in-chief.
President Barack Obama called Staff Sgt. Jose Pantoja, a flight medic with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, to thank him for his service and acknowledge the sacrifice he makes by being separated from his family during the holidays.
Pantoja, originally from Bridgeport, Texas., received the call while at work at Kandahar Airfield.
He was selected to receive the call because of his actions during a medevac mission where he saved nine U.S. service members.
According to the Army, Pantoja was shot in the face while carrying an injured soldier during a firefight near the Pakistan and Afghanistan border while deployed with the 2-87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, on June 10, 2006.
He continued to treat other soldiers during and after the battle and refused to leave with the other injured soldiers.
"There was no other medic out there, so who else was going to help my guys?" Pantoja said according to an Army public affairs story. "I didn't want to leave them without a medic on the ground."
When the firefight ended, the platoon took the remaining wounded and headed back to their base, where Pantoja finally sought medical attention.
It took 18 stitches to close the wound, and he still has a small scar below his left eye.
Pantoja was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with a Valor Device and received the Purple Heart for his actions.