A Philadelphia Military Academy student, who helped save the life of a fellow cadet after he got shot, was on Friday honored by the U.S Army with what is said to be “the highest award that could be given to any junior or senior ROTC [Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] cadet.”
According to CBS News, the JROTC Medal of Heroism award was bestowed on Cadet 2nd Lt. Kaheem Bailey-Taylor after his quick-thinking action helped save the life of a fellow cadet who sustained a gunshot wound. The incident happened last year.
“I am extremely overwhelmed with joy that we are here to celebrate the heroic acts of a young man who is the heart of this school,” said PMA Principal Kristian Ali. “He is an example of how outstanding our cadets can be and he is an example for them to look up and for them to respect.”
The August 17 incident occurred during a party at a North Philadelphia residence, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Bailey-Taylor was said to be outside the home when shots were fired. After running back into the home, Bailey-Taylor noticed three of his cousins as well as a fellow cadet had sustained gunshot wounds.
Bailey-Taylor said that though the injuries his cousins sustained were non-life threatening, his fellow cadet’s wounds “were potentially fatal, and he needed to be rushed to the hospital ASAP.” Bailey-Taylor, who is also friends with the cadet who was shot, had learned first-aid instruction and undergone lifeguard training at the academy.
Bailey-Taylor’s friend had sustained a gunshot wound to the stomach. So the military academy student applied pressure on the victim’s wound with his hoodie. And after two police officers responded to the scene some minutes later, Bailey-Taylor told them what he witnessed. The officers then placed the injured victim in the backseat of the cruiser they came with. Bailey-Taylor also joined his friend in the backseat and continued rendering aid.
“I put my fingers inside his wound to stop him from bleeding out,” Bailey-Taylor recalled. And in an effort to prevent his friend from passing out, Bailey-Taylor continued talking to him. But his friend went in and out of consciousness.
“He said, ‘Bailey-Taylor, please don’t let me die.’ That message will always stay with me. It was somebody that I look at as an older brother,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Bailey-Taylor’s friend was eventually taken to the hospital where he received treatment. The military academy student was also by his injured friend’s side for hours. The injured cadet has almost made a full recovery, and he’s on course to graduate after returning to the academy.
In December, Philadelphia police apprehended a 17-year-old male in connection with the shooting. Though millions of cadets have passed through the military academy over the last 20 years, only 50 of them – including Bailey-Taylor – have been awarded the JROTC Medal of Heroism, CBS News reported.
“It is a humbling experience,” Bailey-Taylor said. Bailey-Taylor said he aims to enroll at Temple University’s ROTC and hopefully gain employment at Homeland Security.