Staff Sgt. Maurice Hall, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 266th Quartermaster Battalion, 23rd QM Brigade, carries his sense of duty and responsibility beyond the borders of Fort Lee.
After having lunch in Colonial Heights March 12, Hall drove back to Fort Lee on Temple Avenue. He saw a thick cloud of white smoke coming out of the grassy medium.
The Tallahassee, Fla., native said the wind was blowing the smoke across the road making it hard to see.
“If you drove through it, you couldn’t see in front of you,” Hall said.
Yet he saw many vehicles drive through the smoke.
Hall pulled over, called 911 on his cell, and got out of his vehicle to stomped out the ankle-high flames.
But the flames had already spread about 35 feet (10 meters) on the dry grass medium, and he said he wasn’t sure if he was making a difference.
“I would stomp out an area, put it out and saw it ignite again,” Hall said.
By coincidence, Command Sgt. Maj. Wayne Hall, Fort Lee garrison, was driving behind the younger sergeant. The command sergeant major witnessed the same smoke that Staff Sgt. Hall had pulled over to battle.
“It was like fog rolling over the street,” said the command sergeant major. “Hundreds of cars passed by, and no one else but a few civilians stopped to try to put the fire out.”
Although Staff Sgt. Hall began to smell burning rubber from his boots, he said he never felt he was in a dangerous situation.
“I just did it without thinking about it, it was a natural reaction,” Staff Sgt. Hall said.
Staff Sgt. Hall said his instinct to put out the fire may have come from his experience in Iraq during his last deployment. While in Ramadi, Iraq, with the 3rd Infantry Division, Staff Sgt. Hall was accustomed to putting out fires.
Col. Gwen Bingham, garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Hall presented Staff Sgt. Hall with a commander’s coin in recognition of his selfless actions that day.
“Staff Sgt. Hall didn’t worry about his personal safety for the sake of preventing a greater fire,” said the command sergeant major. “He was looking out for others.”