Siena’s “Hammer” being hailed as hero

Local Sports

The Siena men’s basketball team didn’t get back to campus until about 1 a.m. Monday morning. An unscheduled, emergency stop in Omaha, NE was part of the long journey. The Saints now have a story to tell, though, as one member of the staff is being hailed as a hero.

“Well, I didn’t know what was happening at first,” Matt Hein explained. The guard had just broken his nose in Siena’s game against Cal Poly and was admittedly a little out of it. He hadn’t noticed the announcement on the airplane intercom requesting the assistance of any medical personnel in first class.

He continued, “And I look down the aisle and all of a sudden, I’m like, ‘that’s Hammer down there.'”

Affectionately known as “Hammer,” Siena’s longtime athletic trainer Greg Dashnaw sprung into action, along with a physician who graduated from Union College. Along with the helping hands of the United Airlines flight attendance, the pair tended to an older man in distress experiencing chest pains. Dashnaw praised how well everybody worked together.

“It was just one of those things where I can’t say enough about the good things that everyone else did. I had a small role,” he said downplaying his part. Dashnaw applied cold compresses, held the oxygen mask, and talked with the patient to keep him from panicking. It was during this conversation that the two found common ground. The gentleman was from the same area as former Siena player Kevin Degnan.

“He saw that and goes, ‘I went to Iona,’ and I looked at him and go, ‘I won’t hold that against you.'” Dashnaw laughed as he recounted the moment. “It kind of made him a little easier.”

It’s that warm-hearted nature that has endeared him to the Siena community for the past 35 years.

“He’s just a good guy,” Hein said.

Freshman Gary Harris, Jr. echoed the same sentiment, saying Hammer would do anything for anyone, and “he’d go out of his way to do it.”

In this case, Dashnaw’s act of service was recognized by the airplane captain, who personally thanked him at his seat. He was blown away by the gesture. The Siena athletic department tweeted out a picture of the interaction, calling Dashnaw a “hero” in the tweet.

When asked about how that title makes him feel, Dashnaw didn’t hesitate.

“Embarrassed,” he said. “I’m not a hero, you know? You do what you do, what you’re trained to do, or just help out. It’s what our country’s all about.”

Dashnaw said he’s not sure how the man ended up, but that he looked much better as he left the plane in Nebraska.

After the grueling trip, Dashnaw was back to work Monday morning, taking Hein to see a doctor for his broken nose.

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