Capt. Christopher Long may have received the Army’s highest award for non-combat valor, but he told other soldiers that he regrets not acting faster to save Sgt. Amy Colbert, a mother of two who was marking her return from her second deployment.
Fort Benning commander Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe presented the award to Long in a small outdoor ceremony Monday.
The attack occurred on the night of April 6, 2019. Colbert had returned home to Fort Bliss, Texas, from Kuwait only a week before. Her unit was excited to be home, and they were gathering to celebrate.
But Colbert’s husband, Lance, was disguised and waiting with a 13-inch hunting knife for his wife to arrive, according to Long. Lance was also an Army noncommissioned officer.
“He pulled out a big 13-inch hunting blade hidden in his pants,” Long recalled in an Army news release. “He went for his wife.”
The former infantryman-turned personnel staff officer jumped into action as Lance ambushed his spouse with the knife.
“I got there as fast as I could, ripped him off her and took him to the ground,” Long said. “I just held him…until the MPs got there.”
Long unfortunately was unable to save Colbert, who died from her wounds.
“I didn’t [initially] know he had a knife. Had I known he had it, she would be alive,” said Long. “It’s tough because I wish I would have been fast enough…but I wasn’t.”
Long later testified against Lance at his court-martial.
After Long’s testimony, the assailant was convicted of murdering his wife, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole as part of a plea agreement.
For Long, though, no award can account for the loss he bore witness to that day.
“Now her kids are without a parent. I deal with that all the time. I wish I had been a little bit faster,” he said.