UPDATE: Army sergeant’s claims he saved life with pen, sweatshirt called into question

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(1/18/19) UPDATE: An Army sergeant’s story that he saved the life of a Texas car crash victim with a ballpoint pen and a New Orleans Saints sweatshirt has come under increasing scrutiny after local firefighters said the victim’s injuries did not match the soldier’s claims.

On Jan. 9, the Army’s public affairs blog posted the story of Sgt. Trey Troney, who allegedly witnessed the Dec. 22 multi-vehicle crash in Sweetwater, Texas, while driving home to Mississippi for Christmas from Fort Bliss. The post said the wreck left driver Jeff Udger with a collapsed lung and a gash on his head. As the story went, Troney wrapped Udger’s head in the sweatshirt and used the hollowed-out pen to relieve the pressure in the injured man’s chest. However, emergency officials in Sweetwater told the Army Times on Thursday that no one fitting Troney’s description treated Udger for any injuries.

​​​​​​Troney’s command has launched an investigation into whether he lied about his role in the accident response and Fort Bliss officials have retracted the story, spokeswoman Maj. Allie Payne told the publication.

“He was at the accident scene. And he may have lent his jacket to apply to the injured victim’s head,” Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Lt. Bryan Witt said. “That’s all that we see that he did … We cannot find any evidence through our investigation that his story was accurate about the first aid he talked about.”

Grant Madden, chief of the Sweetwater Fire Department, told the Army Times the patient they treated from the accident scene did not have a collapsed lung and never lost consciousness, contrary to the initial story.

“There are so many similarities, but our patient didn’t have those injuries,” said Madden, who added that his patient was named Jeff, but did not have the last name Udger.


ORIGINAL STORY: Mississippi soldier saves man’s life with ballpoint pen, Saints hoodie

(1/14/19) A 20-year-old Army hero is being credited with saving the life of a Texas man after he crafted a makeshift medical device out of a ballpoint pen to perform a lifesaving maneuver. Sgt. Trey Troney was headed home to Mississippi on Dec. 22 when he witnessed a car accident that left Jeff Udger bleeding from the head and slumped over the wheel of his truck.

Troney enlisted the help of two other men to pry open Udger’s door and used his special edition “Salute to Service” New Orleans Saints hoodie to help stop the bleeding, according to a post from Army public affairs. He then noticed Udger’s chest had stopped moving, and recognized that he was suffering from a collapsed lung.

Troney found a first-aid kit and a needle chest decompression kit in his car, which had been leftover from a recent rotation at a National Training Center in California, according to the public affair’s post. However, the needle in the kit wasn’t large enough to reach through Udger’s chest, so Troney found a ballpoint pen and emptied its contents to create a hollow tube.

Troney, who has been in the Army for three years, said he knew the procedure worked when he saw the bubbles come out of the tip of the pen.

“We train over and over; it’s like muscle memory,” Troney said in the post. “Not to sound biased, but at 2-3… they’re some of the best combat medics that I’ve ever met.”

Responding officers noted that Udger hadn’t had any pain medicine before the procedure, but Troney said he recognized the severity of the situation after Udger lost consciousness due to massive blood loss.

“In an urgent situation (Troney) showed amazing patience and continuous care,” Udger, who is expected to make a full recovery and offered to replace Troney’s sweatshirt, told Army public affairs, in an email. “He kept talking to me and acted as if the situation was no pressure at all.”

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