james CollinsKMW Force Training Instructor and Special Agent James Collins was featured in the third volume of the The Chief of Staff's "Portraits in Courage." The stories highlight the bravery, commitment, teamwork and personal sacrifice of America's Airmen.

"Special Agent James Collins was in Haditha, Iraq, on December 3, 2006, when he witnessed a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight crash into Lake Quadisiya as it attempted a liftoff from a helipad. The helicopter pitched forward and plunged into the frigid water 40 feet below. Passengers and crew jumped into the rough water of the lake, but they were weighed down heavily with body armor, weapons and combat gear.

Agent Collins raced to the scene, swam out 130 feet into the lake, and found two Marines who had bailed out of the downed helicopter. Pulling the heavilyequipped Marines through the water to safety was no easy task. He swam the survivors back to shore where other personnel began to pull the survivors of the crash out of the lake, get them warm and dry, and render medical aid."

"Without hesitation, Agent Collins returned to the water. Swimming again toward the crash site he found another survivor and pulled him to safety. Agent Collins then went out a final time to rescue one of the helicopter’s crewmembers.

Agent Collins was in the lake for more than 25 minutes, and he could feel the frigid water taking a toll on his body and muscle control. Ignoring his own pain and discomfort, he selflessly rejoined the rescuers onshore and continued the on shore rescue effort."

Click here to view the other airmen's stories.

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