(PARKLAND, Fla.) — Cadet Peter Wang was being buried Tuesday wearing his JROTC uniform – and with him – the U.S. Army’s Medal of Heroism.
Wang, 15, was wearing his JROTC uniform when he was killed in last week’s Parkland, Fla. high school shooting.
“He was pointing the door open for other people to escape and then he was struck by the bullets,” classmate and friend Aiden Ortiz told ABC affiliate WPLG. “I want people to know he died a hero. He died saving many people.”
Also Tuesday, the U.S. Military Academy, known as West Point, posthumously offered admission to Wang for his heroic actions during the shooting. It was Wang’s lifelong dream to attend the Academy.
A West Point statement said, “It was an appropriate way for USMA to honor this brave young man. West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidates whose actions exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor and Country.”
In addition to Wang, the U.S. Army Cadet Command is awarding the medal to two other Cadets, Alaina Petty and Martin Duque, also among the 17 who died.
The gunman, Nikolas Cruz, once was a Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) Cadet as well.
The Medal of Heroism is a military decoration awarded by the Department of the Army to a JROTC Cadet who performs an act of heroism.
According to the Army, the act must be “so exceptional and outstanding that it clearly sets the individual apart from fellow students or from other persons in similar circumstances.”
“The performance must have involved the acceptance of danger and extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage,” the Army said.
Wang’s family was being given a “keepsake” medal – and the family of Cadet Alaina Petty received a similar “keepsake” medal at her funeral Monday. The Florida Sun Sentinel reported that about 1,500 people attended the service for the 14-year-old who was part of the female color guard team.
Wang’s friend Aiden Ortiz and another classmate started a petition on the White House website “We the People” to have the federal government bury Wang with full military honors. As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had over 61,000 signatures.
Service members in uniform were expected to attend Wang’s funeral, and his family is reportedly receiving hundreds of military patches and coins in their son’s honor.
The family of Cadet Martin Duque, 14, will receive the medal during his funeral Saturday.
His aunt described Duque to ABC station KTRK as a good student who loved football and attending church. A Go Fund Me page set up to raise money for the family has already received nearly $40,000 in donations.
A spokesperson for the Army told ABC News that awards for other Cadets wounded in the shooting are going through a review process.
“However, the immediate focus right now is on supporting the funerals with dignity and honor, so deserved by these Cadets and their families,” the spokesperson said.
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