The U.S. Army has awarded a North Paulding High School senior with the Medal of Heroism for potentially saving the life of a freshman who was in the midst of a heat stroke.
It happened during team tryouts for the school’s Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). Oscar Ramirez was almost finished with a 35-minute run.
“I started blacking in and out of consciousness,” Ramirez recalled.
Senior Cadet Brian Ray got word that a participant had collapsed. He came running and scooped up Ramirez.
“I ran with him to some shade, and I loosened up his clothing, poured some water on him, and gave him some water,” said Ray.
“All of the sudden,” said Ramirez, “I felt my feet starting to get numb and progressively going up my body, which made me panic.”
“He was freaking out, disoriented, like screaming,” said Ray.
Ramirez kept yelling incoherently about needing to do a pull up.
“I punched Ray in the chest as hard as I could because I honestly thought that I was going to die if I didn’t do a pull up,” recalled Ramirez. “That’s how urgent it felt to me.”
Despite being punched in the chest, Cadet Ray remained calm, holding down Ramirez and making him sip water until the ambulance came.
“I just kind of did what seemed right,” said Ray.
Their instructor Master Sgt. Monte Briggs spent 20 years in the Army.
“I’ve seen soldiers – combat-trained soldiers – freak out in situations like that,” said Briggs, “and he’s a high school student, a Raider, JROTC. He was more calm than some soldiers.”
At the hospital, the doctor told Briggs that Ramirez had suffered a heat stroke and could’ve died if it weren’t for someone’s quick actions.
“I told my wife, ‘My God, Ray just saved that guy’s life.’ We were talking about it at dinner, and I said, ‘I’ve got to do something for him.’”
Briggs contacted his superiors, who determined Cadet Ray was worthy of the Medal of Heroism, the top honor one can achieve in the ROTC or JROTC.
Ray will receive the medal during a special ceremony Nov. 14 at a meeting of the Paulding County Board of Education.
“It takes someone with a lot of courage and selflessness to be able to throw themselves into a situation like that and try to help someone out,” said Ramirez, who ended up making the team.
Cadet Ray shrugs off the accolades, saying he doesn’t feel like a hero.
“No, I mean that’s what ROTC really is,” said Ray. “It’s just a giant brotherhood really.”
Ray said he plans to join the U.S. Marines after he graduates.
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