Charlie Norwesh, 49, and his wife were inside their Riverwoods, Ill., home when they heard a loud noise above their house and saw a streak of light through a kitchen window. Within seconds, a fire started in a wooded area of a neighbor’s property.
As his wife called 911, Norwesh yelled to her to bring their home fire extinguisher as he ran toward the fire. Norwesh saw a crashed medical evacuation plane on fire with five people aboard.
Norwesh’s wife brought the extinguisher as he pulled the co-pilot from the plane and tried to smother the flames with his jacket. Norwesh’s wife kept the co-pilot awake and kept him warm to prevent shock.
The extinguisher failed, and the fire roared back to life. Norwesh couldn’t help anyone else trapped inside. He pulled the co-pilot away as one of the other passengers escaped on his own.
Firefighters arrived and put out the fire. Norwesh and his wife helped the co-pilot, tending to his broken leg and applying pressure to stop the bleeding from a head wound.
They wrapped the co-pilot in blankets, and Norwesh rigged a sling for the the passenger’s injured arm. Norwesh’s wife called the co-pilot’s family to tell them about the accident before an ambulance took both men to a hospital. The pilot and two other passengers died in the fire.
Eagle Scout Charles Joseph Norwesh, an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 50 in Deerfield, Ill., received an Honor Medal With Crossed Palms for his actions. It is Scouting’s highest award for bravery.
“Scouters in Action” subjects come from the National BSA Court of Honor. If you know of an act of heroism that should be recognized, contact your local BSA council office for a lifesaving or meritorious award application. Note: Consult approved safety guidelines, as actions depicted here may not precisely follow standard procedures.