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No Ordinary Day - 9/11 Hero Noel Sepulveda



No Ordinary Day - 9/11 Hero Noel Sepulveda
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.79

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    bullhorn, down-on, non-combat, onsite, pooling, ribcage, overwhelming, standing, triage, urgency, medic, phoned, selfless, battered, civilian, fuselage
     content words:    Noel Sepulveda, Air Force Master Sergeant, Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, In September, Air Force Strategies Office, Puerto Rico, Air Force, Operation Desert Storm, New York


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No Ordinary Day - 9/11 Hero Noel Sepulveda
By Toni Lee Robinson
  

1     It should have been just an ordinary day at the office for Noel Sepulveda. Sepulveda was an Air Force Master Sergeant. Usually, he worked at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. In September of 2001, he was helping out in Washington, D.C. He was heading up a reserve program for the Air Force Strategies Office at the Pentagon.
 
2     Sepulveda was born in Puerto Rico. He came to the U.S. as a child and joined the Air Force in 1969 at the age of 19. During his six years of active duty, Sepulveda may not have had many ordinary days. In 1972, he was in Vietnam serving as a medic with a helicopter crew. On a mission to rescue a downed American soldier, the chopper flew low over a group of people huddled around a stretcher on the ground. Sepulveda, looking down, saw some things that made him wary. "I don't like what I'm seeing here," Sepulveda said to the pilot.
 
3     Suddenly, the "patient" pulled a weapon from beneath his body. From the brush, mortar shells exploded. The helicopter's tail rudder took a hit. Sepulveda was standing in the open door of the aircraft at the time. He'd neglected to fasten his safety harness. When the mortar hit, he was jolted from the helicopter.
 
4     Trees and brush broke his fall. Still, one hand, one leg, and part of Sepulveda's ribcage were smashed up in his plunge from the sky. As it turned out, he was the lucky one. Just as Sepulveda fell, the chopper blew up. The medic who fell from the aircraft was the only one of the crew who lived.
 
5     Another helicopter in the squadron rescued Sepulveda. It took a year in various hospitals before he was back on duty again. He served another four years on active duty. His medical skills were called upon again during Operation Desert Storm. In all, Sepulveda had 26 years of service behind him when he was called to work in Washington.

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