VAN ALSTYNE — While driving north on U.S. Route 75 through Dallas, a 1st Cavalry Division trooper, noticed a fire burning in the back of a pickup truck.
Dallas-native Spc. Wayne Byers, a soldier with the division’s headquarters, pulled over behind the pickup and began throwing burning bales of hay out of the back March 22 near Van Alstyne.
“I was headed to get my mom so we could attend my daughter’s piano recital,” Byers said.
He had been following the pickup truck for a mile or more as smoke billowed from the bed. The truck started to pull over and the hay bales caught fire.
Byers acted by grabbing his thermal undershirt, remembering its flame retardant capabilities, to attempt to smother the fire, but to no avail. He said he then began pulling the hay bales from the truck and telling the driver to get out and get her children out. Byers then rushed to the passenger side of the vehicle to pull one of the two children out.
After assisting with the children, he returned to the pickup and pulled it forward and away from the burning hay. Byers and the others, who were assisting, also pulled the smoldering bed liner from the pickup as to keep the truck from burning up.
“He helped out a vehicle from burning,” said Jonathan Hunter, a police officer with the Van Alstyne Police Department. “He assisted with removal of the hay bales and further damage to the truck and I would personally like to thank him.”
Once the police and fire department showed up, Byers felt he had accomplished his mission.
“I just felt that I had to get the kids away and get the fire out,” Byers said. “I felt like I did what I should have done or what anyone should have done and I would do it again.”
Master Sgt. Dara Wydler, commandant for the 1st Cavalry Division, said Byers embodies the seven Army Core Values, particularly personal courage. He knew he could get hurt or burned himself.
“It’s a great thing to have soldiers like that,” Wydler said. “It makes other soldiers rethink and relook at themselves and maybe question what they would or would not do.”