When most people think about heroic members of the military, they think about actions on a battlefield far away.
For many military members, however, those serving in the National Guard, acts of heroism often come closer to home during tornadoes, floods or other natural disasters. Sometimes, they just come on an ordinary morning on the way to or from work.
That's the way it happened on a November morning in 2012 for Tech. Sgt. Shawn A. Rucker of the 184th Intelligence Wing of the Kansas Air National Guard, based at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita.
Rucker was driving home after his shift at the base when he noticed a large plume of smoke I the direction of his own home. He followed the smoke and discovered a neighbor's house partially engulfed in flames.
Rucker called 911 and ran toward the house to help. He found the homeowners standing on the front porch and learned that another resident was still in the basement of the house.
He entered the house with one of the homeowners and together they were able to find the still-sleeping resident and carry her to safety. Rucker then stayed with the woman until the Wichita Fire Department arrived.
Today, Rucker is being recognized for his efforts on that morning. In a 9 a.m. ceremony at McConnell Air Force Base, he was presented the Airman's Medal by Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the Kansas adjutant general.
The Airman's Medal is presented to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly nation who, while serving in any capacity with the United States Air, distinguished himself or herself by a heroic act, usually at the voluntary risk of his or her life but not involving actual combat.
The first Airman's Medal was awarded July 21, 1960. The Airman's Medal is worn on the Air Force Blues uniform ahead of the Bronze Star, but subordinate to the Distinguished Flying Cross.