Former trooper, Army veteran honored for service more than 30 years later
On Tuesday, a retired North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper and an Army veteran, who helped save his life, were honored more than 30 years after their first meeting.Posted — Updated
It was October 1975 and 22-year-old Harry Stegall was sitting on the N.C. Highway 74 bypass, in Laurinburg, in his cruiser when he was shot seven times.
"The first thing I did when I hit the ground is I asked the good Lord for help," Stegall said.
He said he saw a station wagon coming at him, but he did not know the driver was wanted for murder.
Stegall was able to get to his car radio.
"Day after day after day, that when you don't think you can't take another step, you can take another step," he said.
Richard Seifried, a young Army pilot at Fort Bragg heard the call. In his chopper, he flew Stegall toward Raleigh.
"Letting him lay down in the back of the helicopter and die was not an option," Seifried said.
He could not rely on instruments, due to bad weather, so he flew just over the treetops, following roads to the hospital.
"If I ever lost visual contact with the ground, I was out of options," Seifried said.
The young pilot and trooper made it, but the two never reconnected - until more than 40 years later.
"I looked for him and looked for him and looked for him, and couldn't find him," Stegall said.
This winter the two connected. They say it is a friendship they did see coming, no matter how long they had to wait.
During Tuesday's ceremony, Stegall was honored with the Highway Patrol Purple Heart - the patrol's highest honor. Seifried was honored with the Highway Patrols' Appreciation Award.