Look, I don’t even know if Riley Howell would have a beer. But his actions inspired me to add to this collection of courageous people. He was exactly what the moment needed, even if that moment meant it was one of his last.
In an alert that flashed across computer and phone screens all over the UNC- Charlotte campus, the instructions were spare but urgent: “Run, Hide, Fight. Secure yourself immediately.” Riley had everything to lose; a long future, a wonderful relationship, friends, family. There’s no way to know what went through his mind. No way to know if he paused and asked “why me? why now?”.
He tackled the gunman and curtailed the carnage that was about to ensue. However it came down, the result was embodied in the ROTC Medal of Heroism he was awarded posthumously; “The achievement must result in an accomplishment so exceptional and outstanding as to clearly set the individual apart from fellow students or from other persons in similar circumstances,” and “the performance must involve the acceptance of danger or extraordinary responsibilities, exemplifying praiseworthy fortitude and courage.”
We need more men like Riley. Many more.