The U.S. Army has awarded its Medal of Heroism to three high school students who were shot dead during last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida.
Alaina Petty, Peter Wang, and Martin Duque were cadets in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point posthumously admitted Wang, a 15-year-old student, who was shot and killed while holding the door open for other students and pushing them through, and awarded all three of them the medal.
“The achievement must be an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding that it clearly sets the individual apart from fellow students or from other persons in similar circumstances,” the Army’s criteria for the medal reads. “The performance must have involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage.”
Wang’s classmate Kelsey Friend told CNN, “He died a gentleman holding the door for other students.” Wang had a lifetime goal of getting into West Point.
“It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man,” the academy said in a statement Tuesday. “West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidate’s whose actions exemplified the tenets of duty honor and country.”
Wang will reportedly be buried in his JROTC uniform with the medal pinned to him. His family will receive the award at his funeral service. Petty’s family received her award at her service Monday. Duque’s family will receive his award at his funeral service on Saturday.
The 19-year-old gunman was also a member of the school’s JROTC air-rifle marksmanship team before he was expelled last year, the Associate Press reports. Several members of the media have depicted the JROTC marksmanship team, which received a grant from the National Rifle Association, as a club that the gun lobby funded to train the suspected shooter, who killed 17 people last week.
“The NRA donated $10,000 to help train the Parkland shooting suspect to use a rifle,” Think Progress reports.
The shooter “was reportedly on an NRA-funded rifle team in high school,” Vox.com reports.
The New York Daily News trashed the JROTC program.
Good God, I didn't even realize this was the Daily New's front page today. Sometimes media cynicism can be so breathtaking that it becomes affirmative malice. pic.twitter.com/GECBwW7eXX
— Jeff B. (@EsotericCD) February 17, 2018
The magazine did not mention the acts of heroism by other JROTC members on its front page. Other members of JROTC protected a classroom full of students by creating a barrier out of kevlar in front of them, and standing guard by the door.