Article updated March 14, 2023
Radcliff, Ky. — Kirby High School Army JROTC Cadet C’Azia Hamilton, from Memphis, Tenn., was awarded the Medal of Heroism, the highest honor awardable to an Army ROTC or JROTC Cadet, during the Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Paul C. Gray Memorial Invitational, March 11.
Last November, Hamilton provided life-saving first aid care to a fellow student after a shooting right next to her school. Read the full story below.
Maj. Gen. Antonio Munera, the commanding general of U.S. Army Cadet Command, alongside Col. Edwin Chilton, the 7th Brigade Army ROTC brigade commander, presented the Medal of Heroism to Hamilton.
Chilton expressed he is extremely proud of Hamilton and highlighted her abilities despite the terrifying circumstance.
“For someone her age to be able to do that and actually apply it in a real-world scenario is just amazing,” Chilton said. “I spend a lot of time with senior (Army ROTC) programs, but to be able to see a junior program do something like this is just very rewarding knowing that we are able to teach them and see them use it in the real world.”
Full story published Jan. 3, 2023
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Classes were dismissed for the day at Kirby High School and freshman C’Azia Hamilton was outside waiting for her mother. Hamilton is a Cadet in her school’s Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program, so staying after school is nothing unusual. However, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, gunshots rang out from the Sonic Drive-In right next to the school.
Hamilton saw people fleeing the area. Through the confusion and shock, she recognized a friend limping towards the high school. Without hesitation Hamilton ran to his aid and discovered he had been shot multiple times.
“There was a wound on his leg,” Hamilton said. “I just knew instantly to use my belt to stop the bleeding.”
Instinct took over, Hamilton was in her Army JROTC uniform that day and used her belt to set a tourniquet. While providing first aid she called for bystanders to call 911. Hamilton then identified a second wound in his abdomen and applied pressure to stop the bleeding.
She stayed with her classmate as medical personnel arrived and continued life-saving care. Justin Cupples, a firefighter and an advanced EMT with the Memphis Fire Department was with the crew that responded to the scene.
“When we approached where the victim was, there was a young lady that was next to the patient’s side,” Cupples said. “A bandage had been applied to the patient’s left leg where the gunshot wound was … This young lady stepped up and helped the gunshot victim … If not for her courageous efforts to help this person, the outcome could’ve been greatly different.”
“Being in the fire and EMS service for almost seven years, often times, you do not come across a citizen so willing to help.”
Hamilton’s mother, RaShondralynn Hamilton, was one of the first to learn about the actions of her daughter.
“To hear her name and ‘shot’ in the same sentence I was shocked, I was devastated…,” RaShondralynn said. “And to then hear that she actually helped him … I’m still speechless to this day.”
Reflecting on what happened, Hamilton encourages others not to be a bystander when help is needed.
“If you see someone in need, don’t hesitate to help because you may save a life,” Hamilton said.
Retired Master Sgt. Lonnie Coleman, the senior Army instructor for Kirby High School Army JROTC, nominated Hamilton for the Medal of Heroism, the highest Department of the Army medal exclusively awarded to Army ROTC and JROTC Cadets. The medal is presented to those who perform an act of heroism where the "acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage” are involved.
Retired Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth Fagans, Hamilton’s Army JROTC instructor, is proud to have a student like her in the program. Her ability to take initiative has impacted the school and its community.
“Although she’s a student in everybody’s class nobody refers to her as that science student, that math student, they all refer to her as that Cadet,” Fagans said.
Army JROTC is a leadership and citizenship program for high school students at more than 1,700 schools. It is an elective course with several opportunities for students to grow through community service and extracurricular activities.
Kirby High School’s Army JROTC program has over 100 students. Coleman says he strives to create a safe and educational learning environment with an emphasis on teaching life skills.
“We always try to tell the students that we may teach you something today and you may not use it,” Coleman said. “You may think it’s not important, but then one day it’s going to become very important to you.”
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