By Kris Mackey, NGA Office of Corporate Communications
December 1, 2014
A member of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency's LGBT community and a soldier assigned to the agency's Defense Intelligence Agency support team at Rivanna Station was awarded the Army Commendation Medal Sept. 10 for his actions in January that saved the lives of patrons at a Seattle nightclub that was the target of a hate crime.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Bostick, who joined the Army in 2005 and has served with NGA for about 18 months, received the award during a ceremony in front of his command and his NGA colleagues at the DIA building at Fort Belvoir’s Rivanna Station.
Col. Sean McKinley, the Army’s senior service advisor at NGA, presided over the ceremony and read the citation, which noted Bostick “distinguished himself without regard for his own personal safety” and “reflects great credit upon himself, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Military District of Washington, and the United States Army.”
Bostick was attending a New Year’s Eve celebration at a crowded Seattle bar when an arsonist doused the stairwell with gasoline, attempting to entrap hundreds of people in the upstairs portion of the bar, said Bostick. Bostick and his friends were the first to sense intense heat, said Bostick. They did not see the gas can until the fire was out, but they did see flames in the stairwell.
“We knew fire extinguishers are kept behind the bar,” said Bostick. “Since the bartender was absent, I grabbed it and handed it to my friend who quickly used it to douse the growing flames, while I grabbed for water.”
KIRO TV of Seattle reported that in the first few seconds after the fire roared up the back stairway of the nightclub, Bostick was one of the few patrons who reacted immediately. He said he hopes anyone would react the same, but attributes his quick thinking to his military training.
“I’m embarrassed to say, my first move was to go after it with cups of water,” Bostick told the news reporter. “Then, I quickly realized this fire is way bigger than that. You know, in 30 seconds, if that fire did what the arsonist intended, there’s no telling how many people could have died."
The surveillance video of the bar that night supports Bostick’s statement, said Seattle police detective Kerry Hays.
“Bostick noticed the fire, calmly and quickly located the extinguisher behind the bar which had been vacated by the panicking bartender,” said Hays in a sworn statement for the investigation. “Bostick grabbed it and tossed it to his friend, and they were able to put out the fire before it spread beyond the stairwell. The quick actions of Bostick were admirable and heroic, preventing the fire from spreading, which could have caused mass panic, leading to injury or death.”
Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Christopher Bostick