A tradition will continue at Friday’s University of Nebraska – University of Iowa football game.
Athletic directors from both teams will make a special presentation during half time honoring one resident from each state for remarkable acts of courage.
Nebraska’s hero is Gene Willers. He is the president of Midwest Bank of Pilger and is credited with saving 8 lives during the June 16th tornado. The safest place in the century old building was the vault but it only locked from the outside.
Willers locked the others inside the vault and took shelter in a crawl space down below. He says, “The door to the cellar was ripped off and the floor was hopping above me. Once the storm passed I had clear access to get out. There wasn’t anything blocking me. There was debris in front of the vault door I had to clear away but we were pretty happy to see each other.”
Willers ushered the same people back into the vault when they were informed the tornado was making a turn and could target the community a second time.
Iowa’s hero is 18-year-old Austin Benson of Winterset who provided lifesaving first aid to an injured friend. Both of their names will be inscribed on the Heroes Game trophy.