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Doing the right thing: Soldier helps injured driver on I-5

1st Lt. Gavin McGettigan is not only an infantry officer but a Good Samaritan. Photo credit: 1st Brigade, 2nd SBCT

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While a Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet who majored in business analytics at Auburn University only to be branch detailed into the infantry, 1st Lt. Gavin McGettigan is now not only an infantry officer but a Good Samaritan.

Cadets have the opportunity to rank their choice of branches in the Army on a preference list, which in McGettigan's case was finance. Where he placed on the Order of Merit List (OML) determined whether or not he got top preference.

"What this meant to me was that I got my first choice, finance," he began "but the Army needed more infantry lieutenants at the time."

McGettigan is a 1st Platoon Leader assigned to B Company, 1st Regiment, 23rd Infantry Battalion, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, part of 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"I now enjoy being in the infantry more than I imagined, and am interested in pursuing a company command."

Born in Chicago, Illinois, the dedicated big brother spent his childhood playing outside and keeping his siblings out of trouble.

"In high school I pushed myself to excel through academics and leadership organizations," said McGettigan.

"While I enjoyed playing sports like golf, tennis and snowboarding, I was better equipped in the classroom. Excelling in high school academically while participating in various leadership organizations set me up for success in college."

McGettigan cites his father, an Army veteran, as having had the greatest influence on him by emphasizing discipline and by always doing the right thing.

Doing the right thing - and becoming a Good Samaritan - became a reality to an injured driver on Nov. 24, 2021.

Headed north on I-5 to Sea-Tac with his roommate 1stLt. Ian Kessler and his girlfriend, Samantha Lindstrom, McGettigan watched as a vehicle crossed at least one lane of traffic, traveled over the shoulder, and then collided head on with a barrier next to an off-ramp at Exit 154.

Kessler pulled the car over and dialed 911; McGettigan climbed out and headed toward the crashed vehicle. 

"I recall thinking, ‘I really hope this guy is still alive' and ‘Oh wow, please God don't let this car catch fire,'" he related.

When McGettigan got to the car, another person who had stopped to render aid had begun to pull the driver from the car.

McGettigan checked for other passengers (there were none); he also noted there were beers strewn about the interior. At about this time, Kessler shouted that gasoline was leaking from the vehicle.

"I saw that the first guy on the scene needed assistance moving the driver, so I lent a hand to move him as far away as possible," continued McGettigan.

Moments later, a nurse arrived and began to stabilize the driver, who had a shattered pelvis and a broken leg.

A few minutes later, an undercover police officer arrived. McGettigan and Kessler gave him their statements and continued on to the airport.

"Even if you're are in a hurry, or someone is doing something reckless - like drunk driving at 4:30 pm on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving - we have a duty to one another to always do the right thing," concluded McGettigan.

The very definition of a Good Samaritan.

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