Young military hopefuls are willing to go to war for their country. Instead, many are losing their lives in school shootings

Analysis
L-R: Peter Wang, photo via 21st Century Photography; Riley Howell, photo via AP; Brendan Bialy, photo via Twitter.

Twice in the span of one week, students with dreams of joining the U.S. military have been on the front lines against school shooters in the U.S., risking their lives and oftentimes losing them in the process.


We saw the most recent example on Tuesday, when high school senior Brendan Bialy "assisted in subduing" a shooter at STEM School Highlands Ranch in Colorado.

Bialy is currently a poolee in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, Marine Capt. Michael Maggitti, 8th Marine Corps District, Marine Corps Recruiting Command confirmed to Task & Purpose.

Maggitti said in a statement that Bialy's "courage and commitment to swiftly ending this tragic incident at the risk of his own safety is admirable and inspiring." Bialy is scheduled to ship to recruit training this summer, per Maggitti.

Another heroic student who rushed the shooter, Kendrick Ray Castillo, was killed in the shooting.

Less than a week before the Highlands Ranch shooting, Army ROTC cadet Riley Howell was killed after tackling and restraining a shooter at the University of North Carolina Charlotte.

The Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department Chief Kerr Putney told the New York Times that if he hadn't acted, "the assailant may not have been disarmed." He was buried with military honors.

Bialy and Howell are part of a growing fraternity of military hopefuls caught in the line of fire too early.

Last year, in February 2018, three JROTC cadets were killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida: Peter Wang, 15, Alaina Petty, 14, and Martin Duque, 13.

Then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida National Guard to attend the funeral services of each of the three cadets, and all three were posthumously awarded JROTC Heroism Medals.

Wang was given posthumous admission into West Point Academy for "heroic actions" — he was killed while holding the door for his classmates to escape.

Other JROTC students at Stoneman Douglas protected dozens of students from the shooting with Kevlar sheets.

This is not a purely recent trend: Air Force ROTC Cadet Matthew La Porte sacrificed his life in an attempt to save his classmates in the Virginia Tech shooting. He was posthumously awarded the Airman's Medal in 2015.

"Cadet La Porte, with complete disregard for his own safety, unhesitatingly charged the shooter in an aggressive attempt to stop him," his Airman's Medal citation, which was provided to Air Force Times, reads. "Cadet La Porte's actions helped save lives by slowing down the shooter and by taking fire that would have been directed at his classmates. He sacrificed his own life in an attempt to save others."

We should be both grateful and honored that heroes like these aspired to serve in our nation's armed forces overseas — and deeply ashamed that so many of their lives were taken here on U.S. soil before they ever got the chance.

SEE ALSO: What Do Combat Vets Think Of Trump's Proposal To Arm Teachers Against School Shootings?

US Marine Corps

The Marine lieutenant colonel who was removed from command of 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May is accused of lying to investigators looking into allegations of misconduct, according to a copy of his charge sheet provided to Task & Purpose on Monday.

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President Donald Trump just can't stop telling stories about former Defense Secretary James Mattis. This time, the president claims Mattis said U.S. troops were so perilously low on ammunition that it would be better to hold off launching a military operation.

"You know, when I came here, three years ago almost, Gen. Mattis told me, 'Sir, we're very low on ammunition,'" Trump recalled on Monday at the White House. "I said, 'That's a horrible thing to say.' I'm not blaming him. I'm not blaming anybody. But that's what he told me because we were in a position with a certain country, I won't say which one; we may have had conflict. And he said to me: 'Sir, if you could, delay it because we're very low on ammunition.'

"And I said: You know what, general, I never want to hear that again from another general," Trump continued. "No president should ever, ever hear that statement: 'We're low on ammunition.'"

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At least one Air Force base is waging a slow battle against feral hogs — and way, way more than 30-50 of them.

A Texas trapper announced on Monday that his company had removed roughly 1,200 feral hogs from Joint Base San Antonio property at the behest of the service since 2016.

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In a move that could see President Donald Trump set foot on North Korean soil again, Kim Jong Un has invited the U.S. leader to Pyongyang, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday, as the North's Foreign Ministry said it expected stalled nuclear talks to resume "in a few weeks."

A letter from Kim, the second Trump received from the North Korean leader last month, was passed to the U.S. president during the third week of August and came ahead of the North's launch of short-range projectiles on Sept. 10, the South's Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple people familiar with the matter.

In the letter, Kim expressed his willingness to meet the U.S. leader for another summit — a stance that echoed Trump's own remarks just days earlier.

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Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

On April 14, 2018, two B-1B Lancer bombers fired off payloads of Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles against weapons storage plants in western Syria, part of a shock-and-awe response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's use of chemical weapons against his citizens that also included strikes from Navy destroyers and submarines.

In all, the two bombers fired 19 JASSMs, successfully eliminating their targets. But the moment would ultimately be one of the last — and certainly most publicized — strategic strikes for the aircraft before operations began to wind down for the entire fleet.

A few months after the Syria strike, Air Force Global Strike Command commander Gen. Tim Ray called the bombers back home. Ray had crunched the data, and determined the non-nuclear B-1 was pushing its capabilities limit. Between 2006 and 2016, the B-1 was the sole bomber tasked continuously in the Middle East. The assignment was spread over three Lancer squadrons that spent one year at home, then six month deployed — back and forth for a decade.

The constant deployments broke the B-1 fleet. It's no longer a question of if, but when the Air Force and Congress will send the aircraft to the Boneyard. But Air Force officials are still arguing the B-1 has value to offer, especially since it's all the service really has until newer bombers hit the flight line in the mid-2020s.

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