UNSUNG HEROES: The West Point Cadet Who Died Saving A Drowning Civilian

Unsung Heroes
Photo via West Point Facebook

The Fourth of July was supposed to be Cadet Tom Surdyke’s 19th birthday. Instead, on that day, his family said their goodbyes and buried him at West Point, where the young hero will rest forever.

He had just finished his first year at the military academy, and between air assault and cadet field training, the Missouri native decided to visit fellow cadet James Crimmins on Long Island, New York.

What should have been a relaxing vacation on Cooper’s Beach turned tragic when a riptide pulled a swimmer out to sea, and nearly drowned him on June 24, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Without a thought for himself, Surdyke went after the boy — a friend he had made that day — trying to keep him afloat as Crimmins swam to shore to call 911.

Surdyke managed to prop the swimmer up until a paddle boarder was able hoist the civilian out of the water. However, he succumbed to exhaustion from battling the current, and ingested a heavy amount of water.

Other beachgoers were finally able to pull Surdyke from the water, but he had lost consciousness. Crimmins performed CPR. Finally, the paramedics arrived and took him to a local hospital, but his heart stopped at least three times.

His parents, Tim and Janice, were called and immediately flew to New York. Surdyke was on life support for four days, but passed away on June 28.

For his heroism, he was awarded the Soldier’s Medal — the highest valor award given by the Army in non-combat situations.

UNSUNG HEROES: The Airman Who Gave His Life To Warn Others Of Insider Attack

“Cadet Surdyke epitomized the values of duty, honor, country in all that he did,” Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr., the academy superintendent at West Point, wrote in a statement.

His parents, three sisters, and his fellow classmates attended the funeral at his would-be alma mater. He was buried among Army legends like Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr., Winfield Scott,  and Maj. Gen. Dent Grant.

According a local Kansas paper, Surdyke wrote in his West Point application, “I want to dedicate my life to serve and protect those who are not able to do so for themselves.”

Even in death, he carried on that dream. In addition to saving the swimmer’s life, Surdyke was also an organ donor.

“He just quietly always did what was right. And at the same time was able to make his friends or anybody around him feel good about what they were doing and what he was trying to do,” Surdyke’s father told Army Times.

A GoFundMe was created to establish a scholarship for students with strong leadership qualities in his honor.


Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Karl Munson pilots a 26-foot boat while Petty Officer 2nd Class Gabriel Diaz keeps an eye on a boarding team who is inspecting a 79-foot shrimp boat in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of New Orleans, La., on April 27, 2005

Radio transmissions to the U.S. Coast Guard are usually calls for help from boaters, but one captain got on the radio recently just to say thanks to the men and women who are currently working without pay.

Read More Show Less
REUTERS/Carlos Barria

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Saturday to receive the remains of four Americans killed in a suicide bombing in northern Syria.

Trump, locked in a battle with congressional Democrats that has led to a nearly month-long partial government shutdown, announced his trip via a pre-dawn tweet, saying he was going "to be with the families of 4 very special people who lost their lives in service to our Country!"

Read More Show Less

A low-flying C-17 gave Nashville residents a fright on Friday when the aircraft made several unannounced passes over the city's bustling downtown.

Read More Show Less
George W. Bush/Instagram

This article originally appeared on Business Insider.

Former President George W. Bush is calling for an end to the partial government shutdown, which is about to hit the one-month mark and is currently the longest shutdown in US history.

In an appeal made on Instagram, the 43rd president called on "leaders on both sides to put politics aside, come together, and end this shutdown." The caption was posted with an image of him and former First Lady Laura Bush giving pizza to their Secret Service detail.

Read More Show Less