SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
In a scene that might have been drawn straight from a Hollywood movie, Tech. Sgt. Ryan Fillweber leaped into the San Antonio River to save a woman who had fallen in during the annual Texas Cavaliers River Parade held April 22 in downtown San Antonio.
Fillweber, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the personnel section in the 369th Recruiting Group, is one of 10 military ambassadors during this year’s Fiesta San Antonio events. As one of two enlisted Air Force representatives, he was on a barge that held two enlisted service members from each branch of the military.
As he and the other ambassadors floated along and waved to the crowds assembled along the San Antonio Riverwalk, he saw a woman fall into the river head first. Fillweber didn’t hesitate.
“I don’t remember consciously thinking, ‘I have to jump in and do something,’” he said. “My legs just went and I followed along with them. I knew she needed help and I just reacted.”
Fillweber helped the woman right herself and, along with some bystanders, helped her out of the water and back on to the walkway. He then climbed on to the bank and checked her over. He found no cuts or bruises as the others who were in her group at the parade came over to help take care of the woman.
Once he was satisfied she was unharmed, he jumped back onto the barge that had come close to the side of the canal and rejoined his fellow ambassadors.
The next day, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, commanding general for U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), recognized Fillweber during the Army Day at the Alamo celebration with a command coin.
“If you look up the word ‘hero’ in the dictionary, you’ll see it comes from the ancient Greeks,” Buchanan said. “There’s only two requirements, really, to be a hero – courageous acts and a noble purpose. We have one here, so I’m going to recognize him with this coin.”
Fillweber, a San Diego native, has been in the Air Force for nine years. Even though his actions helped save a life, he doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I think it’s something any of my other ambassadors would have done,” he said. “I just happened to be the one looking that way.”