NY Guardsman gets state's highest military award for actions during fiery December Thruway crash

New York state's highest military award for courage and heroism has been awarded to a National Guard member who rescued his captain after a crash outside Syracuse last year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented the Medal of Valor to Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Presley III of North Syracuse during Thursday's Veterans and Military Families Summit in Albany.

The 48-year-old Presley, a tractor-trailer driver in civilian life, was driving his truck on the Thruway on Dec. 9 when Army National Guard Capt. Timothy Neild of Wyantskill drove his pickup truck into a bridge abutment near Exit 34A in DeWitt.

Presley pulled over and joined several other people in pulling the badly injured Neild from the burning wreckage just before the pickup exploded.

Neild and Pressley both serve in the Syracuse-based 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.