Wednesday, November 21, 2012
They may have not seen the front lines of war, but four Soddy-Daisy High School Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Raiders teammates have come face to face with a life or death situation. And despite their still-civilian status, they were honored in a Veterans Day ceremony at the school last week for their bravery and quick thinking in the face of death.
Cadet 1st Sgt. Bradley Weaver, Cadet Capt. Destin Cash, Cadet 2nd Lt. Blake Price and Cadet 2nd Lt. Ricky Haynes each were awarded a Medal of Heroism and a Tomahawk Medal by retired Adm. Noah Long for saving a local man’s life this past summer. The ROTC Medal for Heroism is the highest Department of the Army medal awarded exclusively to Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps cadets.
On July 25 the young men were working out in Chester Frost Park running through Raiders drills when they heard someone start shouting “Help! Help! Help!” The cries were coming from a frantic pregnant woman whose husband was drowning after having saved her life.
“We began swimming and swam about 100 yards,” said Haynes. “We started diving down to try to save the victim. The man and his wife had been swimming out way too far. There was a lot of seaweed and they got tangled up and it pulled them down. He was at the bottom of the lake and we pulled him out.”
Weaver, who actually located the man and pulled him up, recalls the events like they happened yesterday too.
“I dove under and opened my eyes and picked him up and started pushing him up,” he said. “I started screaming for help. His body pushed me down. Once I was able to push him back up again, Ricky, Blake and Destin helped me get him to the beach. Destin was preparing to do CPR when a nearby nurse said to lay him on his side to let the water out.
“From us running down the hill, getting in the water and rescuing him, it took three to five minutes total. He did not need resuscitation. He was unconscious but woke up.”
Looking back, Weaver said it was a strange feeling, because everyone else was just on the beach watching the drowning happen.
“We did not panic,” said Cash, adding that he remembers telling the guys to take their shoes off and jump in. “We just tried our best to find him.”
He said the lack of oxygen in the water was scary, but his biggest fear was that the man would not make it out alive.
“We feared that we could not cope with it if we lost him,” said Cash, who unlike Haynes and Weaver, who plan to enlist in the military, wants to be a doctor. “It really affected us,” he said of the experience.
Price said he remembers lifting the man’s head out of the water while Cash lifted his lower back, Haynes lifted his legs and Weaver lifted him under the arms as the team carried the man to shore.
“We honestly did not think that anything like that would ever happen,” Price said. “My heart dropped to my feet. We felt responsible for that person. That’s what leadership is. We felt his life was in our hands, so we acted as quickly as we could.”
Weaver said if anyone else is in a rescue situation, they should stay calm but act quickly.
“Don’t try to take control yourself, instead get help from others too,” he advised.