ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KSDK) - Mo. Air National Guardsman Dan Reece was first on the scene of an apartment fire in the 1100 block of Lemay Manor Drive Monday morning shortly after 6 a.m. Reece helped rescue several residents from the two alarm fire. Reece, who is also a pilot for a major airline, said it's what he's trained to do.
"National Guard training, flying combat overseas doing what we do," Reece said. "It's about saving lives. It's about making decisions."
Reece said he was on his way to Jefferson Barracks where he's a member of the 157th Air Operations Group, when he saw smoke coming from the apartment building.
"I saw a bunch of smoke but I didn't see any first responder lights," Reece said. "As I got closer, I pulled around in front and realized that nobody was there. I yelled out 'is everyone out?' She said there still people in the house."
Lt. Colonel Dan Reece flew 263 combat missions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. He's used to doing what needs to be done. And that's how he explained what made him run into the apartment fire when he realized he was first on the scene.
Mary Ann Scheibel was asleep in one of the apartments.
"I tried kicking the door but it had that reinforced plate there and I couldn't get the door open. So I started smashing the window with my boots," Reece said.
Reece isn't sure but he thinks it was St. Louis County Police Officer Michael Schira who finally kicked in the door, and that's when Reece ran into Scheibel's smoky apartment.
"Somebody turned on the light switch and Mary was lying there, asleep in her bed," Reece said. She woke up and screamed because all three or four of us were right there. I grabbed the edge of the bed sheet and I told the guy next to me to grab the sheet near her head and we carried her out. It turned out to be a very good idea because she just had knee surgery."
Reece said there were multiple heroes at the apartment fire, especially Officer Schira. "He left the room to go to the fourth apartment where there was a person who was a paraplegic from what I understand and he had to lift him up to his wheelchair to get him out," Reece said.
Reece reflected on his fire rescue and how easily it could have turned out worse for him or the people who were rescued. He said it's what a National Guardsman is expected to do.
"Flying combat in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, some South America ops," Reece said, "and we practice training all the time for emergencies. Assess it, make a decision, and then act on it."
One man was taken to the hospital and is expected to be okay.