July 25, 2016 –
When Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Lee Screen sat down for lunch at a Cracker Barrel in The Dells, Wisconsin, July 17, he was ready to eat a big meal before enjoying a day of sightseeing with military police leaders visiting from Taiwan. Instead, he found himself saving a life.
Screen, the mobilization noncommissioned officer in charge at the 11th MP Brigade headquarters, jumped into action when he saw an elderly lady choking and no one else helping. He administered the Heimlich Maneuver, clearing her airway, before returning to his table. Screen was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his quick action.
Screen was at lunch with three Taiwan MPs, as well as leaders from his brigade and U.S. Army Pacific, which facilitated the military-to-military engagement between Taiwan’s MP corps and the 200th MP Command. His supervisor, Lt. Col. Tili Tyrell, the operations officer for the 11th MP Bde., headquartered in Los Alamitos, California, said Screen jumped into action.
“He was asking the server about his order, and then we heard a commotion,” Tyrell said. “We all stood up almost simultaneously. He got there just in front of us and pushed us aside. He grabbed her and started the Heimlich maneuver. He did it three or four times.”
Screen, who has served in the Army Reserve since 2010 after nearly 16 years as an active-duty Marine, said he did what anyone else should do.
“A lot of people were standing around,” he said. “Her face was blue, and her lips were purple. I asked if she was choking and gave her the Heimlich maneuver. Whatever she was choking on dislodged, and I kissed her forehead and sat back down.”
People in the restaurant were shocked, Screen said. Everything happened quickly, but quite a few people applauded the effort.
“I just did what I hope someone would do for my grandmother if it happened to her,” Screen said, who lives in Temecula, California. “Everybody at her table looked like they were in shock, so I ran over, helped her out, kissed her on the head, and sat back down.”
Tyrell said that after Screen saved the lady, the group sat back down for lunch.
“We’re Soldiers,” he said. “We walked back and enjoyed our meal.”
Maj. Rafael Urbina, the military police planner at the U.S. Army Pacific Army Reserve Engagement Cell who arranged the Taiwan MPs’ visit, said Screen’s aid was critical.
“He truly saved that lady,” he said. “She wasn’t going to make it.”
Screen is the type of Soldier who has high expectations of himself, Tyrell said, which was exemplified by his actions in the restaurant.
“His standard is a little higher than most. I love it” he said. “I always emphasize to my Soldiers to do the right thing. If you do the right thing, good things will follow you wherever you go. He’s one of those guys.”
Screen said he takes the responsibility of being a Soldier and a leader seriously, and that being in the Army Reserve is a calling.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We all have to remain vigilant and remember the ethos that make us professionals. Every day I wake up, my fellow Soldiers are my family. Together, we can do great things for this country.”