Local Air National Guard Airman recognized for saving man from burning home

Published 8:45 am Thursday, March 9, 2017

Staff Sgt. Michael Bean, 134th Air Refueling Wing, Knoxville, Tenn., helped rescued a 57-year-old man from a burning home Jan. 20 in Carter County,. Outside of the Tennessee Air National Guard, Bean is a patrol lieutenant with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office.

An Airman with the Tennessee Air National Guard’s 134th Air Refueling Wing in Knoxville rescued a 57-year-old man from a burning home Jan. 20 in Carter County.

“I started my shift that evening as I normally do. Around 8:30 p.m., we were advised by 911 that there was a fire at a residence with a disabled man still inside,” said Michael Bean of the Carter County Sheriff’s Office in Elizabethton. Bean is also a staff sergeant with the 134th ARW and serves as a knowledge operations manager with the unit’s Communications Flight.

“Fortunately, myself, Deputy Robert Hughes and Sgt. David Caldwell were close by to assist,” he said. “My first thought was I hope we can get to the home in time because house fires normally move rapidly. Upon arrival we noticed a woman in the driveway who told us that the man was still inside.”

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Hughes and Bean made an attempt to enter the home through the back door, but were initially unsuccessful to locate the man due to heavy smoke.

“On our way out, we noticed several oxygen tanks inside the doorway and began throwing them outside. Then we wrapped our jackets around our faces and made a second attempt,” Bean explained. “The heavy smoke made it very difficult to see what was in front of us. There were small fires throughout the home, which smelled like burning chemicals.”

This time they found the man lying on the floor.

“I noticed he had injuries from the fire and smoke. We picked him up and carried him outside. Sgt. Caldwell and another deputy, Christian Carrier, helped us carry him to a safe location,” he said. Shortly after, the fire department and rescue squad arrived on scene to render aid to the victim. “I am very grateful that the man is recovering at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.”

Bean has been a member of the Tennessee Air National Guard since November 2003.

“I have always been part of a team,” he said regarding various sports he played in high school. “I wanted to continue that experience, gain an education and set a foundation for my life. The Air Guard is a much bigger team with far greater responsibilities that have helped shape my life.”

Bean is currently a patrol lieutenant with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, but will soon be moving to the Criminal Investigations Division as an investigator. He is also currently attending East Tennessee State University, working on his bachelor’s degree. Bean said he later plans to become an officer in the National Guard.

“The Air Guard has taught me to have a sense of service and commitment. I have been able to handle stressful responsibilities when faced with adversity,” Bean said. “Situational awareness and attention to detail have helped me in my civilian career.”