Texas State Guard member honored for saving man from burning vehicle

Texas State Guard member honored for saving man from burning vehicle

PALESTINE, TX (KLTV) - Members of the Texas State Guard now have a place to call home in Palestine. Today marked the opening of the Hope Center, a facility donated by the mayor to the state guard.

It was also a special day for Private first-class Justin Willis. It was "Texans helping Texans," the motto for the Texas State Guard that help true for one private.

"It's something I will never forget for the rest of my life," Willis said.

On June 23, Willis was coming from a teacher training session when a car in front of him hydroplaned.

"The truck was on fire, so I stopped to see what was going on, and there was stuff all over the highway," Willis said. "And I was thinking, where is the person that was driving the vehicle."

That's when Willis and three other individuals jumped in to help.

"The vehicle had rolled over," Willis said. "So, we couldn't get him out of the front the only way we could get him out was through the back of the truck."

But assistant g-7 Christy Kusch says that what being in the Texas State Guard is all about.

"When you put on the uniform, there's an expectation that you are going to assist," Kusch said. "Cause that's what the uniform is all about."

The Texas State Guard works under direct orders from governor, and now with the hope center in Palestine, East Texans can receive additional help during disasters.

"We're trained to take an emergent situation and break it down and react appropriately to minimize whatever the damage can be," Kusch said.

Willis says it's that training that helped him react such a quick manor.

"But to have to experience something like that first hand, it was a really bad accident," Willis said. "I was just in that place, I felt like god put me there."

The Texas State Guard is volunteer based only. They are deployed during times of natural disasters of civil affairs disputes.

Copyright 2018 KLTV. All rights reserved.