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This veteran saved lives of two children, carried them through floodwater in viral Hurricane Harvey photo

August 29, 2017

A photo of a man carrying two small children through waist-high floodwater during Tropical Storm Harvey has gone viral, and that man is not only a Sheriff’s Deputy, but also a veteran.

Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Johnson said he has always wanted to help others, and he was doing just that when someone took this photo of him.

Johnson is a dad of four and a veteran who served in Iraq and Kuwait.

He has been with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office since 2011. He and colleagues were in Cypress, Texas, helping those affected by Tropical Storm Harvey, when Johnson told TIME that he found a family with two small children, a baby and a dog, who were in need of assistance.

“I grabbed the kids, and in order to keep the kids focused on happy thoughts given the seriousness of what was going on around us, I told them a couple of light jokes. We joked about swimming, and the water being cold,” Johnson told TIME.

Johnson is known to colleagues as “Deputy J.” He and his colleagues took the family and several others to a shelter.

He spoke to TIME from a Houston-area firehouse.

“I’ve always liked helping people out,” he added.