Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Beane, a canine handler stationed at the Maritime Security Response Team, was at a friend's house having lunch when he heard the roar of jet planes over head.
His friend motioned for him to be quiet. Jets were a common occurrence because of the nearby Oceana Naval Air Station, and it was easier to talk after they had passed overhead. The plane's engine was straining though; something wasn't right.
There were a few loud pops, then an explosion as the F/A-18D Hornet crashed roughly 200 feet away from where Beane was standing.
"My training kicked in," Beane said. "I saw the fire and explosion, and I knew I had to help."
He raced to the nearby buildings on fire and began to knock on doors to make sure everyone was safely outside.
As he rounded the corner, he found the pilot, still attached to his parachute which was caught on the buildings roof, lying on the ground a few dozen feet from the flames.
As Beane raced to provide assistance, a civilian good samaritan leapt a nearby fence and was also moving to assist the injured pilot.
"My training as a Coast Guardsman prepares me to react to emergencies, Beane said. "The real heroes are the good samaritans. Their instinct to help overrides any fears they could have."
Together, they cut the pilot loose with Beane's knife.
After quickly checking for broken bones and other injuries, they carried the pilot to a parking lot about 100 feet away.
"We had to move him," Beane said. "There were more explosions, and the fire was spreading."
The pilot began talking although he seemed dazed.
"He kept asking if everybody else was OK," Beane said. He asked about the people on the ground and the other pilot. His own safety was the last thing on his mind."
There was another large explosion, so they moved the pilot to shelter behind a dumpster.
This time, he was able to gather enough strength to stand, although he needed help to walk.
Beane stayed with the pilot and provided water and care until paramedics arrived. The paramedics also treated Beane for smoke inhalation before he was released to go home.
"I am not surprised by Petty Officer Beane's actions," said Capt. Brian Thompson, commanding officer of the Maritime Security Response Team. "Nick is one of our many top performers. I am very proud he was able to use his Coast Guard training to help get the pilot to safety."