National Guard soldiers at the State House Wednesday. (Bernice Corpuz/WBZ NewsRadio 1030)
BOSTON (WBZ-AM/AP) -- A celebration with cake was held at the State House Tuesday morning, marking the National Guard's 381st birthday and recognizing three Guardsmen for heroism.
The Massachusetts National Guard is the nation's oldest militia.
Captain David Wilson received the Massachusetts Commendation Medal with Heroism Device for saving about two dozen middle school students from Sudbury after their bus crashed and rolled over on I-95 in Waltham last January.
Wilson happened to be driving by and helped calm them down.
Maj. Chad Cormier said Wilson safely got everyone out of the vehicle.
"Captain Wilson disregarded his own well-being and put himself at risk, entering the bus as there was a real possibility of a fire or an explosion," Maj. Cormier said.
But Wilson told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz he doesn't consider himself a hero--he says he just happened to be the first person to respond.
"At the time, it was just reacting, I wasn't really thinking about it," Wilson said. "I just stopped, and what anyone else would do if they saw it themselves, just helped some people."
Staff Sargent Daniel Papagno received the Soldier's Medal for assisting a Worcester Police officer during an encounter with an armed suspect.
And Sargent First Class Jason Lacerda received the Medal of Valor for saving a motorist in a crash in March 2016.
The honors came on the same day Gov. Charlie Baker filed legislation that calls for doubling the minimum pay for active duty soldiers and airmen in the Massachusetts National Guard from $100 per day to $200 per day.
If approved, that would be the highest minimum pay for a National Guard unit in the country.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Bernice Corpuz reports