Tag Archives: Heroes

Amidst great evil, Sandy Hook teachers save children’s lives

On Friday afternoon, I heard an expert on the psychology of mass murderers like Adam Lanza interviewed on the Mark Levin radio show. John Lot said shooters like Lanza are bent on committing suicide. What distinguishes them from other suicides is their grandiosity — they want to go out in a blaze, taking as many innocent lives with them as they can, because they want to make a name for themselves, albeit in the most perverse way. But their names will be emblazoned in the media and in our consciousness nevertheless.

We need to stop finding excuses — Lanza had Asperger Syndrome! — to minimize their deeds. We need to call these mass murderers what they are: EVIL.

But sure enough, evil men like Adam Lanza do succeed in their malignant quest for publicity. What these evil men do is so unthinkably horrible, we can’t help but want to find out who they are. Who is Adam Lanza? Why did he kill 26 innocent lives in Sandy Hook Elementary School, including 20 first-grade little children whose lives had barely begun? What rage can possibly account for him shooting all his victims execution-style and shooting each precious 6-year-old child ELEVEN times?

The way we can thwart these evil bastards from the publicity they seek is to focus on the Good and the Light.

Here are examples of the Good and the Light, in the midst of great evil that terrible day in Newtown, Connecticut.

Sandy Hook 1st graders learn about the three As of concert behavior: attention, appreciation, and applauseMaryrose Kristopik teaches a group of first graders about the three As of concert behavior: attention, appreciation, and applause

Daniel Bates reports for the Daily Mail, Dec. 14, 2012, that during the shooting at Sandy Hook, music teacher Maryrose Kristopik had the presence of mind to gather her students, ages 8-10, into a closet. She kept the children quiet by praying with them and assuring them “I love you,” and so saved 20 precious lives.

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Kristopik said she barricaded herself into a closet with her students while killer Adam Lanza battered on the door screaming: “Let me in! Let me in!” Only when the shots, which had been ringing out, had died down did she lead her students outside to safety.

Mrs Kristopik said: “I did take the children into the closet and talked with them to keep them quiet. I told them that I loved them. I said there was a bad person in the school. I didn’t want to tell them anything past that.”

Kristopik said there were 20 kids in the closet and there wasn’t enough space for them. One door had several instruments, including big xylophones, blocking it. But Kristopik stood in front of the other door and held the handle to keep the children out of harm’s way.

She said, “I was just trying to be as strong as possible. I was thinking about the children. I told them that we had to keep quiet and we were hiding and nobody knew we were there. Of course I was afraid too. I wanted them to be quiet, I thought it was a pretty secure out of the way place.”

Maryrose Kristopik rightly is hailed a “hero” by parents.

An unnamed mother, in her 40s, whose nine-year-old son was among the children said: “I want to thank her. She saved their lives. The shooter kept banging on the door screaming: ‘Let me in! Let me in!’ but he didn’t get in. Now I have to explain to my nine-year-old son that his friends won’t be coming back. How am I supposed to do that?”

Brenda Lebinski said her eight-year-old daughter is safe thanks to the teacher’s decision to move all kids into a closet when Lanza had entered the building. “My daughter’s teacher is my hero,” Lebinski said. “She locked all the kids in a closet and that saved their lives.”

Asked about the incident itself, Mrs Kristopik denied that she was a hero: “I called the police, I dialed 911 and they said they had reports of shots in the school, so that’s when I had to tell the kids there was a bad person there because I didn’t want them to talk. I did what any other teacher would have done and I know there were others like me doing the same. They were doing whatever they could. They were my fourth graders. We held hands, we hugged and I just tried to talk to them a little. We also said some prayers and one of the children said we should say a prayer, and we did.”

There were other heroes at Sandy Hook.

One of them is the school’s principal Dawn Hochsprung, who reportedly tried to shield students from Lanza with her body before she was gunned down.

This picture was recently taken of an assembly at Sandy Hook elementary, with hero music teacher Maryrose Kristopik conducting the choir This picture of hero music teacher Maryrose Kristopik conducting the choir at assembly was taken Wednesday and tweeted by murdered principal Dawn Hochsprung

Another hero teacher was Kaitlin Roig, who barricaded her first grade students in the classroom’s bathroom and locked the door when she first heard gunshots.

Roig said, “The kids were being so good. They asked ‘Can we go see if anyone is out there?’, ‘I just want Christmas”, ‘I don’t want to die, I just want to have Christmas.’ I said, ‘You’re going to have Christmas and Hanukkah… I tried to be positive’.”

Another teacher (name unknown), according to Richard Wilford’s seven-year-old son, went out of the second-grade classroom to check on the (gun) noise, came back in, locked the door and had the kids huddle up in the corner until police arrived. “There’s no words,” Wilford said. “It’s sheer terror, a sense of imminent danger, to get to your child and be there to protect him.”

Melissa Makris’s 10-year-old son, Philip, was in the school gym and “heard a lot of loud noises and then screaming.” His gym teachers immediately gathered the children and kept them safe in a corner. The students stayed huddled until police came in the gym and helped them get out of the building, telling the kids to run.

light in darkness

God bless all these wonderful teachers — candles in the darkness — who, as Hell broke loose and unleashed its demons, had the courage and presence of mind to secure the safety of their little charges.

~Eowyn

A Hero to Remember

Commander Howard Walter Gilmore

Earlier this month I did a blog post on my dad’s World War II hero, Slade Deville Cutter.  My father shared another story of a Commander that made the ultimate sacrifice for his crew and our country, Commander Howard Walter Gilmore.

Gilmore underwent submarine training in 1930 and in the years that followed served in various submarines and at stations ashore. In 1941, he assumed his first command, USS Shark (SS-174), only to be transferred the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor to take command of the still-unfinished USS Growler (SS-215). On his first, Growler attacked three enemy destroyers off Kiska, sinking one and severely damaging the other two, while narrowly avoiding two torpedoes fired in return, for which Gilmore received the Navy Cross. On his second patrol, Growler sank four merchant ships totaling 15,000 tons in the East China Sea near Taiwan. Gilmore received a gold star in lieu of a second Navy Cross.
 
The submarine continued to take a heavy toll of shipping on her fourth war patrol, and on the night of 6–February 7, 1943, she approached a convoy stealthily for a surface attack. Suddenly a fast gunboat, Hayasaki, closed and prepared to ram. As the small ship charged out of the darkness, Gilmore sounded the collision alarm and shouted, “Left full rudder!” — to no avail. Growler hit the Japanese adversary amidships at 17 knots, heeling the submarine 50 degrees, bending 18 feet of her bow sideways, and disabling the forward torpedo tubes.
 
Simultaneously, the Japanese crew unleashed a burst of machine gun fire at Growler’s bridge, killing the assistant officer of the deck and a lookout, while wounding Gilmore himself and two other men. “Clear the bridge!” Gilmore ordered as he struggled to hang on to a frame. As the rest of the bridge party dropped down the hatch into the conning tower, the executive officer, Lieutenant commander Arnold Schade waited expectantly for his captain to appear. Instead from above came the shouted command: “Take her down!” Realizing that he could not get himself below in time if the ship were to escape, Gilmore chose to make the supreme sacrifice for his shipmates. Schade hesitated briefly — then followed his captain’s last order and submerged the crippled ship.

Commander Gilmore's Grave Stone in Meridian, MS

Surfacing some time later in hope of reattacking the Hayasaki, Schade found the seas empty. The Japanese ship had survived the encounter, but there was no sign of Gilmore, who apparently had drifted away in the night. Schade and Growler’s crew managed to control the ship’s flooding and limped back to Brisbane.

For sacrificing his own life to save his ship, commander Howard Gilmore was posthumously awarded the Medal of HonorToday “Take her down!” remains one of the legendary phrases of the U.S. Submarine Force.

Thank you Commander Gilmore for sacrificing your life for your crew and our freedoms. A true hero to remember forever.

DCG

A Hero to Remember

An American Hero

My father served in the US Navy and was involved in both the Vietnam and Korean Wars.  My father was my hero growing up (most of the time!), raised me as a conservative, and taught me the difference between right and wrong.  He also shared a story with me of his hero, Slade Deville Cutter.  I would like to share his story with you.

My father was a Recruit Chief Petty Officer of Company 497 and completed his US Navy training in San Diego (my father is on the front right). The training was brutal – it involved “gunnery” training (doesn’t sound that bad to me!) and practice run-throughs of the “gas chamber” (that sounds brutal!).

Photo of my dad taken by Captain Slade Cutter on 27 May 1960

My father then went on to serve on the USS Neosho . It was there he met his hero, Captain Slade Cutter.

Slade Cutter was ‘da man. He was a career US Naval Officer and was awarded four Navy Crosses and tied for 2nd place for Japanese ships sunk during World War II. My dad shared the following with me:

“I spent about 2 1/2 years on The USS Neosho, some with Slade Cutter as Captain and some with Reuben Whitaker as Captain. Both were famous and excellent World War II submarine captains.  The only bad feature about the Neosho was no air conditioning! The air search radar was obsolete, but our radar repeaters and communications equipment were good. Most importantly, we respected and admired our Captain Cutter.  He was a man of courage.”

“Cutter was really concerned about the welfare of his crew.  (Dad presumed it came from the fact that he survived so many attacks.)  His crew always came first.  The better the performance of the people on the ship, the better chance they had of surviving.

Cutter’s four war patrols as Commanding Officer of the USS Seahorse netted 19 sinkings and more than 70,000 tons of shipping in the postwar accounting. Cutter succeeded in sinking 9 vessels in enemy Japanese-controlled waters during a Second Water Patrol.  He also succeeded in delivering damaging torpedo attacks against heavily escorted enemy convoys. On one occasion, it was necessary to pursue an enemy convoy over a period of 80 hours and only by exceptional determination and skill was Cutter able to penetrate the escort screen and sink two freighters.

Captain Cutter once stated, “The Seahorse sank 19 enemy ships during the four war patrols I was the skipper. The crew got the job done. I was merely the coordinator. They were brave and talented, and I never had to be reckless.  I thought of the lives of those fine men, and frankly, I was aboard too.

Spoken like a true hero.

DCG