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Posted 11/27/2017

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By John Barker, Mobile District, public affairs specialist

Kenneth “Sam” Hill is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District, employee deployed to the U.S. Virgin Islands to aid after Hurricanes Irma and Maria but one local islander will remember him for doing something even more heroic.

While driving one night on a remote, narrow, winding country road, Hill and Mark Fain, from St. Louis District, happened across a head-on collision accident scene that was less than two minutes old.

“We were the first on the scene,” Hill said, who returns from deployment Nov. 28. “Both vehicles were demolished. One of the drivers in the accident was uninjured. The other driver, however, was facedown, unconscious, lying in the middle of the road in a pool of blood.”

Hill said the emergency medical training he received in the U.S. Coast Guard kicked in.

“First, we secured the scene to warn other drivers and then Mark drove to a local restaurant because there was no cell service,” said Hill, who served in the Coast Guard for 20 years. “The injured driver had multiple lacerations, a compound fracture of the right elbow and a right knee fracture or dislocation. I tended to his injuries, administering first aid, protecting his airway and watching out for potential spinal injuries.” Actions that may have saved the driver’s life.

Hill joined the Corps and the Mobile District in January 2010, immediately after retiring from the Coast Guard. He is currently assigned to the Corps’ Deployable Tactical Operations System, or DTOS, in support of the temporary blue roof mission in St. Croix.  The mission gets its name from the blue plastic used as the foundation for the temporary roofs.

The Corps contracts to repair residents’ roofs that were damaged during the hurricane. The homeowners’ first step in requesting the assistance is to complete a Right of Entry form, which allows a Corps employee to enter the home and assess the roof damage.

Hill and Fain are assisting the blue roof mission from their Mobile Communications Vehicle, a Sprinter Van that provides radio, satellite and cellular voice and data communications. Hill and Fain travel around St. Croix, setting up at various locations so residents with roof damage can complete the electronic right of entry forms that are immediately uploaded to the blue roof mission’s database.

Hill was originally deployed to Texas after Hurricane Harvey and was then diverted to the Virgin Islands. During his time at the Corps, he’s been deployed to the following disasters: Hurricane Matthew, Topical Storm Sandy, Tropical Storm Isaac and in response to the Alabama tornadoes of 2011.

Why does Hill volunteer?

“Disasters bring suffering,” Hill said. “It is an honor to be part of a team whose job is to minimize that suffering.”

Back in Alabama, Hill is the captain of the Motor Vessel General Irwin. He’s married to his wife, Jennifer, and the couple have two sons. The oldest, Eric, is in the Coast Guard and stationed in St. Marys, Ga. The younger, Fletcher, is set to graduate from Auburn University this summer.