Ariz. guardsman honored for saving friend's life

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- An Arizona guardsman was honored Sunday for saving the life of a friend and fellow guardsman after they were involved in a serious auto accident last summer.

Pfc. Edwin Carter received a Distinguished Service Medal, which is the second highest award an Arizona Army National Guardsman can receive.

“I'm pretty stoked about it,” Carter said.

A motor transport operator with the 222nd Transportation Company based in Florence, Carter had just returned home from basic and advanced individual training when he and Spc. Rashaad Gregory drove to get pizza July 28. Gregory was an air conditioning and refrigeration repairer with the 3666th Support Maintenance Company in Phoenix.

Their car was sideswiped, and Carter, remembering his military training, stabilized Gregory's head and neck until paramedics arrived.

Gregory's skull had torn away from his spine -- a rare injury known as internal decapitation. It usually results in death or paralysis.

But doctors said Carter's quick response saved Gregory's life.

“I don't necessarily need the recognition," Carter said. "I like it, but it's for the National Guard and doing a good thing and recognizing Spc. Gregory for his great recovery and everything like that."

Gregory was on life support after the accident, and doctors expected him to be quadriplegic and dependent on a ventilator for the rest of his life.

But the guardsman is beating the odds in his road to recovery. After undergoing several surgeries, Gregory can stand up and move around with a walker.

"Looking at Gregory and how far he has come from these injuries, you just look back and go, 'Wow,' " Carter said. "Somebody was on his side. God was on his side."

Gregory attended Sunday's ceremony at Papago Military Reservation in Phoenix.

“He's always been my best friend and he was always my brother, but it's like a whole other level of love for him and love for what he did," Gregory said. "I just thank him so much."