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A Nellis Airman who went beyond the call of duty

Our Red Cross Everyday Hero

LAS VEGAS - Months after a lone gunman fired into a crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival, Sergeant Michael Engen remembers when Jason Aldean's live performance turned into terror.

"You keep listening and listening," said the Minnesota native, "[But] at that point you start hearing people screaming."

After spending all day enjoying country music at the back of the main stage, Sgt. Engen, his wife and a friend were running and ducking for cover.

"It was so constant to the point where it's either a lot of fireworks going off or it's gunfire and in your mind you don't want to think it's gunfire," said Sgt. Engen.

Sgt. Engen says he instructed his wife and friend to escape the grounds because a person who was struck by a bullet was already in need of help. 

He immediately began triaging and using a makeshift tourniquet to stop the bleeding. Throughout the chaos, Sgt. Engen began flashing his Nellis Air Force identification, so he could direct confused crowds out of the venue.

"I knew if I got them to trust me and follow everybody else, they'll keep going," said Engen. Helping hundreds, Sgt. Engen says his gut reaction was to offer aid in any capacity, including to the paramedics at the medical tent who were overwhelmed with the wounded and dying.

"I'm going to say I saw a lot of things, a lot of people shouldn't have to see," said Engen.

Sgt. Engen, along with off-duty off responders were cleared from their unofficial duties in the early morning hours of October 2nd.

These days, he still hasn't gone south of Tropicana Avenue, near the venue but with the help of fellow survivors in the valley and across the country, Sgt. Engen is back at work at Nellis Air Force Base's Air Crew Equipment Shop.

"The motto here is perfecting that others may live," said Sgt. Engen. "Instead of doing it for gear here, I did it with peoples lives on the line out there."