Conservation Officer Honored For Bravery

Alabama Conservation Officer receives the state legislature's top honor from Rep. Howard Sandifer, as Gov. Robert Bentley and Lindsey's wife and son look on.

An Alabama game warden was recognized last week by the state Legislature for bravery and exordinary courage during an airplane crash last year.

Joe Lindsey, a Conservation Law Enforcement Officer with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, was presented with the Legislative Medal of Honor. The award is the highest given to law enforcement in the state and recognizes law enforcement officers for extraordinary courage in the line of duty. It is Lindsey’s second Medal of Honor.

Nominees from law enforcement agencies across the state were in attendance and joined by Gov. Robert Bentley. He presented the award during a joint session at the Capitol in Montgomery.

In 2011, Lindsey rescued a young boy from an airplane that crashed in Marshall County near Guntersville Lake. Lindsey exhibited grace under pressure when he helped move the boy away from the crash scene and kept him calm until paramedics arrived. The boy’s parents were killed in the crash, but due in part to Lindsey’s heroism the boy survived.

Lindsey did not seek attention for his actions, left the scene after emergency responders arrived and took control, and was unknown to the boy and others at the scene other than some of the responders. It was days later before local news media revealed Lindsey’s identity and the extent of his involvement, which helped save the young boy’s life. Lindsey, as is his nature, downplayed the actions as being what anyone would try to do in an emergency situation.

“I know that if most of our guys who put on the green brown uniform were put in same situation I was in, they would have done same thing,” he told the Legislature. Lindsey and his family were at the airport waiting on his father to fly in to take their son on a flight. They had talked with the family involved in the crash before their plane left, and when the crash occurred Lindsey responded immediately.

“Having a little boy about the age of the boy in the flight, I don’t really think about it,” he said. “I’ve just got to get there and help. When you get in a situation like that, you fall back on your training. I don’t consider myself a hero. I consider myself a guy who was in the right place at the right time.”

This is not the first time Lindsey has had the opportunity to save someone from harm while off duty. On Thanksgiving Day 2008, he was driving in Huntsville, Ala., when he saw a van spewing smoke and flames. He immediately pulled over to assist and found a lady outside the van who indicated her daughter was inside.

Because the daughter was mentally disabled and very frightened, she could not get out of the van on her own. Lindsey found a post from a nearby construction site and used it to break the glass in the van door. He was then able to pull the daughter out of the vehicle before it became completely engulfed in flames. When paramedics arrived, he quietly left the scene.