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2 Fort Bragg soldiers honored for heroic acts off duty

The U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) will present the Soldier's Medal to Staff Sgt. Anthony Best and Staff Sgt. Baltiera for heroic acts performed off duty.

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Soldier's Medal Award Ceremony

The U.S. Army's 1st Special Forces Command (Airborne) on Wednesday presented the Soldier's Medal to Staff Sgt. Anthony Best and Staff Sgt. Baltiera for heroic acts performed off duty.

On Nov. 27, 2021, Batilera saved a woman from drowning while in El Salvador. He was swimming at Playa El Tunco in La Libertad, El Salvador, when he heard a cry for help.

A woman was swept away by a rip current and was struggling to stay above water.

Baltierra swam toward the woman to save her from drowning. After battling the severe conditions, being swept away by a violent rip current and nearly drowning by the distressed woman, he was able to secure her and get back to shore.

Baltierra battled extreme exhaustion as he swam back to the shore, dragging the woman, who became unresponsive during the rescue.

Upon reaching the shore, he was able to get the woman to vomit seawater until she was able to breathe on her own.

On June 13, 2020, Best was hiking at Raven Rock Park with friends when he witnessed a woman jump into the Cape Fear River with her two dogs.

The woman and her dogs were swept away by the strong current of the river and were heading toward dangerous rapids and protruding rock formations.

Best yelled for the woman to cover her head as she was swept towards the dangerous area. As he was sprinting toward the river, she hit several protruding rock formations.

Best jumped into the water without regard for his own personal safety. After about five minutes of battling severe conditions, Best rescued the woman and dragged her to a safe location.

He made sure the woman was okay, then dove back into the river to save her two dogs. They were struggling to stay afloat as they were being swept downstream.

After about fifteen minutes, as he was reaching extreme exhaustion, Best held onto a rock formation in the river while struggling to maintain control of the dogs' leash.

He mustered up the strength to pull the dogs to safety then came up with an evacuation plan. Thanks to Best, the woman and her dogs made it to safety on a nearby trail.

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