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Modest hero: Man on a mission   Leave a comment

Brethren,

There was a lot of attention that the media gave us in years past- and very little of it was good. Since that time, 2 General Conference Sessions later, we see the bustling activity in the Romney 2012 camp. This is not all, as we have seen the church roll out new features and ideas. Which ones?

Consider the huge makeover that mormon.org got not to long ago; Consider the change of the lds.org home sites, more user friendly- and with the use of membership number, can have access to all the telephone numbers you will ever need for people in your stake.

But as I started to say, more media attention is coming our way, and therefore an increased feeling of responsibility to live the standards.

Here is a recent story about a LDS Missionary- doing as Christ would.

Missionary aided in rescue of pilot

SAN BERNARDINO – Cameron Johnson came to Southern California on a mission to save men’s souls. On Monday, he saw a chance to save a man’s life.

Johnson, 19, was one of three civilians who leapt into action Monday when a twin-engine plane crashed into an RV storage yard on Tippecanoe Avenue.

He helped pull the plane’s pilot – Lonny Wayne Rollins, 39, of San Luis Obispo – away from the craft as it was leaking fuel.

“I kind of realized in the process that if I die doing this, the best way to die is to help somebody else,” Johnson said.

Rollins and his business associate, Greg Fitzgerald, 61, of Paso Robles, were critically injured in the crash, firefighters said.

But it could have been worse.

Cameron Johnson, 19, recalls climbing this 9-foot fence at RV Storage USA in San Bernardino to access the site of aplane crash Monday. Johnson got over the fence to help rescue Lonny Rollins of San Luis Obispo. (Gabriel Luis Acosta/Staff Photographer)
 

If the wrecked plane had caught fire and Johnson wasn’t there to pull out Rollins, Rollins could have died, said Jason Serrano, spokesman for the San Bernardino Fire Department.

That’s why firefighters Tuesday were calling Johnson, a Mormon missionary, a hero.

On Tuesday, Johnson was content for that heroism to remain unsung, as he reflected on the incident and Rollins’ condition, which remained serious.

He was back on his mission – wearing a a familiar uniform – a short-sleeved white dress shirt, a necktie, black slacks and shoes and a name tag that read “Elder Johnson.”

Monday was supposed to have been a day to prepare for that work – a day off of sorts for Johnson – one of the 200 missionaries who report to The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints’ San Bernardino County mission in Rancho Cucamonga.

Johnson, who has worked in San Bernardino for about three months, and three other missionaries had just finished lunch at an In-N-Out Burger.

They were driving up to Lytle Creek for a hike when they saw the plane crash about two miles from San Bernardino International Airport.

“The plane was going sideways so it would miss the telephone lines,” Johnson said. “We saw it dive over and we kind of knew there was no way it wasn’t going to hit the ground. It was going straight down.”

They pulled over, got out of the car and that’s when Johnson, a former Boy Scout, ran down a hill and climbed a 9-foot-high wrought-iron fence designed to keep people out of the RV storage facility the plane crashed into.

“I was just freaking out,” Johnson said. “I just ran up to the fence and started climbing up it and hopped over.”
Once over the fence, Johnson and two other unidentified men braved leaking fuel from the aircraft, downed power lines and jagged metal from the wrecked plane.

Rollins’ plane was leaking fuel all over the place. Johnson said the plane’s cockpit was torn open in a way that he could see Rollins and Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald was unconscious, slumped forward in his seat. Johnson thought the man was dead.
Rollins, bleeding heavily from above his left eye, cried out for help. Johnson and two other men helped pull him out of the plane and away from the wreckage.

Johnson stayed with Rollins as the other two men pulled Fitzgerald from the plane’s cockpit. The missionary held the 39-year-old computer engineer’s hand and kept him talking and conscious until firefighters arrived.
“My first thought was, `I have to get this guy out of there before the plane blows up,”‘ Johnson said. “I was scared out of my mind.”

And then, as quickly as he hopped the fence and entered Rollins’ life, Johnson left the scene before police or firefighters could talk with him.

He said he thought that moving Rollins away from the wrecked plane could get in him in trouble.
But Johnson is not in trouble – far from it.

“His actions were definitely heroic,” Serrano said. “He put himself in harm’s way in order to try to rescue one of the occupants of that plane.”

Mormon missionary Ernesto Diaz, 20, of Modesto watched Johnson climb the fence and help Rollins. He agreed that the word “hero” was an accurate description of the young man he’s known for only a week.
“It’s just something where he chose to help someone else,” he said. “I think it was his choice.”

But Johnson, whose humility bordered on self-deprecation, shrugged off the hero label.

He was quick to remind people that two other men followed him over the fence to help Rollins and Fitzgerald.
“I think more credit actually goes to them,” he said. “I helped pull Lonny out, but I think they did most of the work. I think they did most of the saving, to be honest.”

Johnson on Tuesday said he couldn’t stop wondering about Rollins and how he was doing.

Rollins was listed in serious condition and Fitzgerald’s status was upgraded to fair condition Tuesday afternoon, said Loma Linda University Medical Center spokesman Herbert Atienza.

Growing up a Mormon, Johnson said he’s always been told to live his life as if every day would be his last.
He said the experience he had Monday brought the lesson into sharper focus than ever before.

“That’s the most real it’s ever been in my life,” he said. “(Rollins) didn’t wake up thinking he would get in a plane crash and almost die.”

And despite the courage it took to drive Johnson over the fence toward the wrecked plane, he said he might not be brave enough to get that close to an aircraft in the near future.

“I don’t think I want to fly home in 19 months,” Johnson said, laughing. “I think I might want to drive.”

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Posted February 11, 2011 by rexfordgbeardsleyjr in Modest hero: Man on a mission