In the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in American history, a disabled American veteran jumped into action.
Many DAV members have combat experience, taking rounds from the enemy and giving it back ten-fold. What many of us, fortunately, have not experienced is being taken by surprise in our civilian lives, taking fire from an unknown position with no cover and no weapon to return fire while tens of thousands flee for their lives.
That scenario played out October 1, as more than 20,000 concert goers enjoyed a long-standing country music festival in one of the most iconic cities in America.
At 10:08 p.m., as country music superstar Jason Aldean played to adoring fans, a crazed gunman broke out the window of his 32nd-floor Las Vegas hotel room 500 yards away and began firing a barrage of bullets into the crowd.
At that very moment, many heroes would emerge by treating victims, acting as human shields and evacuating others to safety. One such hero, a DAV Life Member and Marine Corps veteran, Taylor Winston would be heralded for his quick thinking as he did what Marines are trained to do—improvise, adapt and overcome.
Rounds were still impacting when Winston saw a parking lot filled with work trucks and he was quick-thinking enough to check if the keys may still be inside one of them. As it turns out one of the vehicles did have keys, and Winston and his fellow concert-goers turned the truck into a makeshift ambulance.
Winston would eventually make three trips to Desert Springs Hospital Center with critically wounded people before there were enough ambulances and emergency personnel on scene to take over.
Anderson Cooper of CNN’s AC360 asked Winston how his military experience helped him through such a horrific ordeal. Winston said, “I think a lot of my training helped in the event, helped me keep a cool head, but at the end of the day, we just knew we had a mission to get as many people to safety as we could.”
Winston is being hailed a hero for his actions and quick thinking but rejects the title saying, “Many people just like me were doing good things and helping.”
Winston served in the Marine Corps from 2006 to 2011 and is a veteran of the Iraq war. He was honorably discharged as a sergeant and resides in California. He is an avid dancer who attends many country concerts with his girlfriend, who helped Winston to load the critically wounded as the tragic events unfolded.
“We’re exceptionally proud of Taylor’s brave and selfless actions,” said National Commander Delphine Metlcaf-Foster. “In spite of the disabilities he incurred in service, when his fellow citizens needed him he was back on duty. His actions speak volumes about his personal courage and the contributions veterans are able to make in spite of any obstacle placed before them.”