Three Commanding Officers Awarded After Preventing Suicide of Soldier

by Matthew Memrick

The suicide prevention of a Texas soldier by three U.S. Army commanding officers was recognized by county officials this week.

The men, based at Fort Hood, helped save the life of a fellow serviceman on June 16. 

Sergeant 1st Class Nicholas Ketch, Staff Sergeant Stephen Gulczynski, and Staff Sergeant Corey Clark received the “Life Saving Award” from the Bell County Sheriff’s Department. The county also recognized a Belton police officer in the saving act.

According to the Killeen Daily Herald, the men were from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division. 

A Dark Day Averted

According to The Army Times, Bell County Sheriff’s Office officials got a call about a service member threatening to take his life.

An Army Corps of Engineer ranger told deputies that she’d seen a dark SUV near the Stillhouse Dam Tower structure at Chalk Ridge Falls. 

The intoxicated man had told the ranger that he would jump to his death at the falls. Officials later learned the man had made previous threats to take his life.

When deputies arrived, an Army victim’s unit led by Ketch, Gulczynski, and Clark joined the men to “coach their teammate off of a ledge and back to safety.” 

News station KXXV reported that as the soldier was attempting to jump from a bridge, he got on the phone with Gulczynski.

“I got the call,” Gulczynski said.

Gulczynski said the man called him first and he remembered just trying to keep him on the phone. The staff sergeant tried to get the man to think about his family and begged him not to jump.

Clark and Ketch soon made it to the falls, and the three commissioned officers knew the solder

The Army Times reported they tried to talk the soldier down and that Clark, Gulczynski, and a sheriff’s deputy worked to pull the service member away from the railing and restraint him.

The Daily Herald reported that Clark talks with once-suicidal soldier every day.

Moment Of Suicide Prevention Praise

“It is my opinion that the individuals involved in this incident demonstrated an unmatched amount of empathy and concern for their fellow soldier in crisis,” said Bell County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Christopher M. Wilcox.

Wilcox added that “their efforts and quick actions contributed to the successful outcome of the incident and help avert a tragic situation.” 

Suicide rates in the U.S. military have increased in recent years. Newsweek reported that it rose by 15 percent last year. Army National Guard rates jumped by 35 percent, while Army service members had rates go up by 20 percent. 

Sgt. Maj. Jerry Long expressed how proud he was of the troopers. Long was one of those presenting the award to the men.

“The word ‘hero’ nowadays is used quite broadly to refer to many different things, but these guys are the definition of hero,” Long told the crowd. 

Long said the men didn’t have to save the soldier’s life, but they did without any hesitation.