January 27, 2022

Tully airman honored for helping injured friend in Homer

Photo provided by New York Air National Guard

New York Air National Guard Master Sgt. Adam Gagne, right, a member of the 174th Attack Wing, receives the wing’s Safety Award from wing commander Col. William McCrink III, during a ceremony Nov. 13 for providing emergency medical treatment to Army Reserve Master Sgt. Richard Accardi following a hunting accident.

TULLY — A New York Air National Guard member from Tully was recently honored for saving a friend’s life during a mishap in September in Homer.

Master Sgt. Adam Gagne received the 174th Attack Wing Safety Award Nov. 13 from Col. William McCrink III, commander of the 174th Attack Wing, the Air National Guard announced Friday. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding safety achievement.

Gagne, assigned to the 174th Attack Wing’s contracting office, was working Sept. 13 to set up tree stands for whitetail deer hunting season in Homer with his friend, Army Reserve Master Sgt. Richard Accardi, when Accardi cut a 6-inch gash through his forearm while cutting nylon zip ties. The cut exposed muscle and tendon.

“I found myself slipping in and out of consciousness,” Accardi told the Air National Guard. “Years of Army training had not prepared me for anything like this. I’m not going to lie, I was terrified.”

Accardi cried out for help.

“It was like someone had a milk jug that was filling up with blood. When I looked at it I could see different colors that you shouldn’t see,” Gagne said. “I have been hunting for 20 years and have never seen anything like this.”

Gagne called on his military first aid training. He created a makeshift tourniquet using surveyor tape and started wrapping the tape above Accardi’s bicep to slow the bleeding. Another hunter removed his shirt, tore it up and handed it to Gagne, who used it to stop the bleeding.

As Accardi started to fade out of consciousness. Gagne helped him down the stand, loaded him onto a four-wheeler and drove to Gagne’s truck, then to Guthrie Cortland Medical Center.

“My military training played an important part in helping him remain calm during this rescue effort,” Gagne said. “I was a combat weatherman prior and learned Air Force self-aid buddy training and Army lifesaver skills. It was like second nature.”

Accardi received fluids, lidocaine, 20 stitches, and 13 staples. He made a full recovery.

“If I would have been alone I am fairly certain this would have turned out much different,” Accardi said. “He is someone who I do not just call my battle buddy, but on that day, my guardian angel as well.”