JROTC cadet praised after hammer throw goes wild at track meet

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) A University High School student in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. is being praised for saving a fellow cadet.

(Photo by Rissa Shaw)

Ismael Lopez, a junior, is being recommended for the JROTC Medal of Heroism for his quick actions which helped keep another cadet out of danger, possibly saving her life.

Alexandria Monroy, a senior, said she was almost hit when a hammer thrower’s practice toss went wild at the Michael Johnson Invitational track meet at Baylor University on April 22, but Lopez saved her from the 12 pound piece of metal.

“What the officials told me is that they can be lethal or put you in a coma, it’s really crazy if you get hit by one of those,” she said. “If he wasn’t there, it would have hit me.”

Monroy, University High's JROTC Battalion Commander, and Lopez, its S-2 Security Officer, were both volunteering at the meet and had been assigned the hammer throw competition.

Monroy said she had her back to the thrower during a practice session and was getting a text from another cadet who was leaving the meet when the hammer was thrown in her direction.

“That’s when everyone started yelling and he pulled me out of the way,” Monroy said.

She credits Lopez pulling her arms and body out of the way for saving her from injury, or worse, because the metal ball barely missed her.

“Even after he pulled me away, I could feel the wind from the ball pass me,” Monroy said.

Even though she ducked, Lopez knew it wasn’t enough to keep her from injury.

He said he blacked out and his instincts took over.

“Honestly, if I try to recall, nothing was really going through my head, I just had to act,” Lopez said.

The act may have saved Monroy’s life.

“Ya know, that a 12 pound hammer, and if it did end up hitting her, even in the body, it could have caused some damage, and he reacted,” said 1st Sgt. Leonard Montelongo Junior, Senor Army Instructor at University High School.

Monroy called Montelongo to tell him what Lopez had done.

“He told me not to tell anyone, he kinda told everyone not to tell everyone, but he deserves the recognition,” Monroy said. “I appreciate him and he does this on a daily basis, even the small things he does, it may not be life-saving but he’s always helping somebody.”

As a result, Montelongo is recommending Lopez for the highest JROTC award for heroism.

“I wasn't surprised at all when I heard of what had happened,“ he said. "That's why we want to recognize him."

Montelongo said his recommendation wasn’t a guarantee.

“It’s a process,” he said.

The first of her family to go to college, Monroy is set to attend the University of Texas at Austin in the fall after she graduates next month.

She said JROTC has taught her a lot, but Lopez has taught her to pay more attention.

Lopez said he didn’t do it for the recognition, he said the praise actually made him uncomfortable.

"I'm happy that I kinda prevented someone else from getting hurt,” Lopez said.

Afterwards, he didn’t gloat about the save; he went back to the gate to volunteer.

"It was 'ok this happened, it could have been a whole lot worse, but we still have a job to finish,'” he said.