By Mr. Michael Maddox (ROTC)January 24, 2018
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (Jan. 18, 2017) -- Family members, friends, Cadets and fellow ROTC cadre gathered at Missouri State University Jan. 18 to honor and remember Capt. Aaron Eidem, a former cadre member who was posthumously being awarded the Soldier's Medal for actions he took in 2016.
Col. Kenneth McRae, 3rd Brigade commander, presented the medal to Amber Eidem, Aaron's wife, during a ceremony at the college. Aaron Eidem was awarded the medal for actions he took while trying to help a stranded motorist in 2016.
Eidem had noticed the vehicle pulled over on the left side of a busy highway. As a former enlisted military policeman, he used his training to pull his vehicle behind the motorist to provide protection as he helped with driver of the other car. During this a tractor-trailer struck Eidem's vehicle, killing him.
During the ceremony, McRae spoke to the crowd about what makes a hero.
"Heroic people recognize danger and they run to it rather than run away from it. They are willing to risk their live in order to save another," he said. "They are noble with an evolved sense of character -- having high morals and a strong dedication to those principles. Yes, Capt. Eidem was heroic -- he never ran from a fight and he never left a Soldier behind."
He went on to explain how Eidem's actions symbolized heroism and selfless service.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Aaron knew the danger he faced when he pulled his car behind that stranded truck, and yet he chose to act, and those actions were heroic. He did the right thing, he did not pass on by," said McRae. "There is no better example that could be given to our Cadets of what it means to be a Soldier than Aaron's actions that day. Being a Soldier means acting in the face of danger to help those who cannot help themselves, and that was Aaron."
Amber Eidem said she wasn't surprised to hear that her husband put his life in danger for someone who needed his help.
"He wouldn't have thought twice to help someone else who was in need. That was not only him as a Soldier, but him as a man -- that's just who he was," she said.
She added, he did what was right because it was right, not because of medals and awards.
"He would think this was way over the top and unnecessary," she said jokingly. "He did not like recognition -- to him, he was just doing his job. He wouldn't want everybody making a big deal about it."
"The most important thing to him was his Cadets -- he wanted to see them succeed. He wanted to see them become Soldiers and he wanted to see them come home -- that's just who he was," she added. "He didn't like telling people he had a Purple Heart or all of these awards because that's not what defined him."
Eidem said she's grateful for those who gathered during the ceremony, and for the lasting memories that will be a part of the ROTC battalion for years to come.
"I love being able to remember him -- to me, this is keeping him alive. To me every time someone says his name or "I remember when…" he's alive. It helps me keep remembering and it helps my children remember," she said.
McRae added to her sentiments, saying Aaron Eidem's life and example will be carried forward in the Cadets and cadre at the school.
"Capt. Eidem was always straight-forward with his Cadets, and because of this the Cadets loved him. They knew him as a solid mentor who cared deeply about their success, and that's exactly the kind of officer our Army needed to teach and train these students," he said. "There is no doubt his legacy will live on in these Cadets who are soon to be officers."
The Soldier's Medal is awarded to military members who distinguish themselves heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy. The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy.