Exhausted and bruised, heroism didn't come easy for Sgt. Alfredo Guerrero and is perhaps harder to accept: "To me, it just seems logical to do my job."
The 29-year-old from Modesto, Calif., has been singled out as the man who prevented a terrorist bombing from being much worse.From the roof of an eight-story barracks, Guerrero spotted a suspicious truck pull up to the U.S. military housing complex. In the 31/2 minutes before a huge bomb inside the truck exploded - and the barracks facade crumbled - Guerrero and two guards evacuated two floors of the building.
Nineteen people died and hundreds were wounded, but U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud said it could have been much worse without Guerrero's quick action.
A dark bruise under his eye, Guerrero described what he saw from the roof of the barracks 100 feet from the fence:
"The truck backed up to the fence, then two men driving the truck got into a passenger vehicle and proceeded to drive off," Guerrero told reporters Friday at a recreation room on the base.
"They got so close, you could hear the truck going into the hedges (outside the fence)," he said. "I figured there was something wrong with that."
As the bombers changed vehicles, "they were either running or it was a very brisk walk. It was obvious they wanted to get away."
Guerrero and two colleagues, Senior Airman Cory Grice, 21, of Lattar, S.C., and Airman Chris Wagar, 20, Graham, Wash., rushed into the building and shouted at people to evacuate.
They alerted two floors before the bomb went off. It ripped down the face of the apartment block, damaged a second building, blew out shop windows, shattered car windshields and left debris scattered for blocks in all directions.
"It didn't knock me down, but it kind of spun be around a little bit," Guerrero said. "There was debris flying everywhere, I got some in my eye."
It was dusty, dark and hard to see or move around, he said. But Guerrero, Wagar and Graham began helping others get out of the building.
"All I could think was, `I need to get out of here,' " Wagar said. "But Sgt. Guerrero was there to remind me that we need to get others out of here, too."