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Quick-thinking Whiteman pilots use Air Force training to save man’s life after boating accident

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Five pilots stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, prevented a potentially fatal situation at nearby Lake of the Ozarks on July 14, 2018. 

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Brandon Cameron, Capt. Kyle Cassady, Capt. Eric Lipp, Capt. Joseph Madden and Capt. Morgan Viar rented a boat for the afternoon to water ski on the lake, which is about 80 miles southeast of Whiteman Air Force Base. While taking a break to relax around 3:30 p.m., the Airmen – assigned to the 13 Bomb Squadron, the 393d Bomb Squadron and the 20th Attack Squadron – heard commotion from another boat about 100 feet away.

"It looked like the man accidently fell and clipped his arm on the boat’s tie cleat," Viar said, which is a piece of metal attached to the side of a boat to secure rope.

The fall was followed by screams for help. The cleat had sliced the forearm of Missouri resident Tony Mannino and cut an artery in the process.

"Blood was just squirting out and we did our best to wrap his arm with a towel," recalled Krista Mannino, Tony’s wife. But, the couple knew Tony needed immediate medical attention.

Adding to their panic, the Mannino’s boat was tied between two other boats, and freeing it would’ve cost the family precious time getting Tony to the hospital.

"We saw a boat with the Fort Leonard Wood label on it and I screamed as loud as I could for them to come help," Krista said. "I didn’t even know if they were military members, but I knew they were people who could help us."

They weren’t Fort Leonard Wood soldiers, but Krista was right – the men would help them without hesitation. The Whiteman pilots were at the scene within minutes of first hearing Krista’s calls for help.

They transferred Tony, who is 6 feet 5 inches and about 220 pounds, to their boat using a blue water pad to ensure he did not touch the water.

"Upon further examination and interaction with Krista, Capt. Cassady confirmed that Tony had lost a substantial amount of blood and the injury was time sensitive," Lipp said. "So, as a team, we used our Self Aid Buddy Care training and applied pressure to the wound."

Meanwhile, Cameron and Viar knew they needed to make a tourniquet; Tony had already lost a significant amount of blood and looked pale.

"I used my tank top to start the tourniquet and asked Viar to find something hard to cinch it down," Cameron said. Viar grabbed the water ski handle and the two pilots used it to secure the wrap.

"Training took over and we were just doing what were taught by the Air Force," Cameron said.

Without delay, Madden navigated the boat across the lake to the dock, avoiding as many waves as possible to ensure a smooth ride. Together, the Airmen helped Tony up flights of stairs to the Manninos’ vehicle. Lipp and Cassady went with the couple to keep Tony’s tourniquet in place during the short ride to Lake Regional Hospital, while the other pilots followed behind them.

Tony was in a hospital bed in less than 20 minutes after the Airmen began helping him on the lake.

"The doctor said that the blood had clotted over by the time we arrived at the hospital," Krista said. "I believe that it was all because of the tourniquet."

Tony was released just hours later with stitches. Tony and Krista tracked down the Airmen and treated them to pizza that same evening to thank them for their quick-thinking and fast action.

"I have no words," Krista said. "They saved my husband’s life, and I am so thankful they were there. I don’t know what would have happened if they weren’t."

The five humbly agreed they did what any Airman would have done. Even so, the Whiteman AFB leadership is making plans to formally recognize the group’s heroics in the near future.

"We’re always striving to be the best that the Air Force has and these five Airmen exemplified that on the lake that day," said Lt. Col. Nicholas Adcock, the 393d Bomb Squadron commander. "We couldn’t be more proud to call them members of Team Whiteman."

Editor’s note: Listen to Capt. Eric Lipp’s July 19 radio interview with 1450 KOKO host Marion "Woody" Woods via the Whiteman Air Force Base Facebook page at: