NORWAY — The Maine Army National Guard honored one of its soldiers yesterday for saving the life of a 6-year-old boy.

Two of the state Guard’s general officers traveled to the Norway armory of 251st Engineer Company, Sapper, to recognize the timely intervention performed by Sgt. 1st Class Joshua D. Way, also of Norway.

Zackery and Jessica Curtis had been evaluating the same building on Oct. 11, 2015, as a possible location for a church function when they found that their son, Nathan, had gone unconscious.

“The children were playing in the gym, and Nathan went to get a drink of water,” Jessica explained. “He felt tired and laid down. He just stopped breathing and was unresponsive.”

Way was on duty that moment in the conference room. Zackery Curtis brought the unconscious body of his 6-year-old boy to Way.

“He was not breathing, he had no pulse, and his lips were blue — so he had been without breathing for a few minutes at least,” Way said.


Way has been in uniform for 12 years so he has had multiple classes in first aid and life-saving intervention techniques.

“I took the boy from his father and laid him down and performed CPR,” Way said, “and on the third set of rescue breaths, he opened his eyes and started breathing. He had a shallow pulse.”

Way had the boy’s mother talk to him and rub his hair to comfort him as well as to keep him awake until the paramedics arrived, but he kept going in and out of consciousness, he said. 

“I think he was more scared than anything,” Way said.

The entire Curtis family was at the Elm Street armory yesterday to witness Way receiving the Meritorious Service Medal from 52nd Troop Cmd. Commanding Officer Col. Dwaine E. Drummond. The colonel also presented Nathan with a teddy bear, bearing the insignia of the U.S. Army.

“Sgt. 1st Class Way truly sets the example as a soldier,” said Capt. Brian McClellan, commander of the 251st Engineer Company. “He not only is a leader, but mentors others to be a leader. He’s also someone who when he receives training, he remembers it and is prepared to execute it. And that was clear with this incident.”


“It was pretty important,” Jessica Curtis said of Way’s emergency training. “I think it helped keep everyone calm. It definitely helped Zack stay calm.”

Two-thirds of the Maine National Guard’s general officers attended the award ceremony. Brig. Gen. Douglas A. Farnham, U.S. Air Force, adjutant general, and Brig. Gen. Hugh T. Corbett, assistant adjutant for the U.S. Army component of the Maine National Guard, both made remarks to the audience.

“You never know when the doorbell’s going to ring,” Corbett told the assembled troops. “You never know when someone’s going to be at the door, needing help. This is such a success story. It’s a great day, and again, it’s just reacting, based on your training — and when you get to that point in time, you’re well-trained and functional. Keep training hard, and you’ll be the next person out there.”

Training in life-saving techniques isn’t only for people in uniform. The American Red Cross in Lewiston periodically offers group and public classes in first aid and CPR. For more information, call 207-874-1192.

(National Guard Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Peter D. Morrison)

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