Cadet Staff Sergeant Connor Gamma was honored with The Gold Valor Award, the highest award the Air Force Junior ROTC can bestow upon a cadet. The award is given to recognize “the most outstanding voluntary acts of self-sacrifice and personal bravery by a cadet involving conspicuous risk of life above and beyond the call of duty,” according to the regulations put forth by Air Force Junior ROTC.
The following is a summary of the citation that accompanied the award:
On 20 May 2018, Gamma rendered aid to fellow cadets following a devastating car crash, when their vehicle struck a pool of water, spun out of control and hydroplaned, before hitting a tree head-on. Gamma quickly sprang into action, rendering aid to both Cadet Master Sergeant Ashley Daniels, who was crying out in pain, and Cadet Senior Airman Logan Haithcox, who was slumped over in the driver seat with a serious head wound.
Noting smoke pouring from the engine, Gamma immediately assisted Daniels in getting out of the vehicle, who unfortunately was unable to walk. He was left with no choice but to carry her to safety some 30-feet away from the vehicle. Next, he ran back to the vehicle to assist Haithcox. Concerned about the smoke and believing that time was of the essence, Gamma quickly helped Haithcox out of the vehicle and to safety with Daniels.
Gamma then provided critical aid to both girls until help arrived. At the hospital, Mr. Anthony Haithcox, Loganâ€™s father, stated, “I am so impressed with how mature Connor is and what he did. Without him, I don’t think the girls would have been alright. He has my respect and I am grateful for him.” The Daniels family added, “Because of Connorâ€™s brave actions and quick-thinking, Logan and Ashley are alive. Connor is forever our hero!”
Through these heroic actions and his dedication to duty, Gamma has truly earned this Gold Valor Medal, which garners great credit to his account and the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
After the presentation, R-MA Senior Aerospace Science Instructor Lt Col Joel Jones, USAF, Retired, helped the cadet corps understand the significance of the award by saying (and repeating for emphasis), “This is the Air Force Junior ROTC equivalent of the Medal of Honor.”
“This is what R-MA is about, This is what Air Force Junior ROTC is about,” Jones explained to the cadets. “We are here to become better citizens, better people, and leaders. This is the epitome of what Air Force Junior ROTC and R-MA are trying to teach you.”
Randolph-Macon Academy is a co-ed boarding and day college prep school where students engage in collaborative, creative learning and develop leadership skills through Air Force Junior ROTC. The Academy offers a unique flight program and a full range of athletics and extracurricular activities. R-MA is fully accredited by VAIS and SACS AdvancED and is also affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The Academy is one of only six Falcon Foundation Schools in the United States. It is located in Front Royal, VA.