Three Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets killed during last week’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida have been awarded the Medal of Heroism by the U.S. Army.
Family members of the cadets, Alaina Petty, Martin Duque and Peter Wang, will receive the medals, which are awarded only to cadets whose achievements “involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy courage and fortitude.” At least one of the cadets was gunned down while protecting fellow students.
Eyewitnesses say Peter, a 15-year-old freshman, spent his last moments holding a door open at the school to help others evacuate. He was wearing his gray Junior ROTC shirt at the time and will be buried in his full uniform ― along with his Medal of Heroism ― on Tuesday.
An online petition urging that Peter be buried with full military honors had more than 62,000 signatures Tuesday afternoon. Also Tuesday, he was posthumously admitted to West Point, the prestigious U.S. military academy he dreamed of attending.
“It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man,” West Point said in a statement. “West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidates whose actions exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor and Country.”
Members of the Florida National Guard will attend each cadet’s funeral.
A U.S. Army spokesman told the Daily Beast the family of Alaina Petty, 14, was presented her medal at her memorial service on Monday. More than 1,500 people attended the service.
Alaina’s oldest brother Ian said his sister “will be missed terribly,” and called on others to keep her legacy alive “through small acts of kindness.”
The family of Martin Duque, 14, will receive his medal on Saturday. His family members remembered Martin to the Miami Herald as “sweet, affectionate and loved by his entire family.”