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A Hero Among Us

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Julianne Showalter, 145th Public Affairs

On a routine PSA Airline flight on July 21, 2016, from the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Ky., to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Charlotte, N.C., a belligerent passenger threatened the safety of the crew as well as the others. Maj. Nathan Barron of the 156th Airlift Squadron, who is also a civilian pilot with PSA Airlines, acted decisively and courageously by tackling and subduing the passenger.
“He verbally threatened a flight attendant, and then assaulted a different flight attendant when we were pulling into the gate. At that point, I felt like I had to defend my crew and neutralize the threat. I restrained him on the floor until law enforcement arrived,” said Barron.
For Barron’s actions, Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, the Adjutant General of North Carolina, commander of the North Carolina National Guard, awarded him the North Carolina National Guard Soldier and Airman Medal for heroism.
“You don’t have time to think. You just react to the situation and I applied the proportional amount of force needed to restrain the individual. I put him in a head lock, took his feet out from under him, and took him to the ground,” said Barron.
As Captain of the Bombardier CRJ-700 aircraft, Barron felt the need to protect those aboard his plane. Because of his actions, the flight attendant as well as other passengers were not harmed.
“This is a new medal and it’s the first time this has happened. We do things every single day that make a difference in the world, and to have one of our Airmen actually recognized for going above and beyond is great,” said Col. Troy Gerock, commander of the 145th Airlift Wing.
Barron has been a full-time pilot with PSA Airlines for nine years, but also puts on his military uniform to pilot C-130 Hercules aircraft for the 156th Airlift Squadron. During his 14 year military career, Barron has deployed five times and is preparing for his sixth later this spring.
Barron’s wife, Jennifer, was not surprised by the events when her husband told her the news.
“I got the phone call, and I could tell he wasn’t himself. He told me what happened, and of course the first thing that came to my mind was his safety. It didn’t surprise me at all that he wasn’t caught off guard, and that he acted in a cool manner to take care of the situation. It was comforting to know that he was Johnny-on-the-spot, intervened, and everyone was okay,” said Jennifer Barron.
Barron stood humbly as Lusk pinned the medal onto his lapel during a presentation in front of his fellow Airmen and said, “It’s an honor for the Adjutant General to take time out of his busy schedule to come down to present the medal in front of the whole squadron to show his support for me. It’s wonderful to have my family here too. You can’t do this job without strong family support.”