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Heroes in the Eyes of All – Sung and Unsung

July 30, 2012


Sometimes, when someone else says it all, it’s best just to add an ‘amen’ and repost their work, as I do here with Fathers and Families  Executive Director Rita Fuerst Adams’ commentary and analysis of one aspect of the Colorado mass shooting:

White Knights Ride While Dark Knight Rises

Rita Fuerst Adams
By Rita Fuerst Adams, National Executive Director, Fathers and Families

Slowly we are learning more about the 12 people killed in Aurora, Colorado. For four men, we are also learning how their ultimate sacrifice saved four lives by their using their own bodies to shield their girlfriends, and in one case, a fellow airman.

Yet it seems the heroes most of the media are talking about are three who saved their girlfriends by being human shields: Jonathan Blunk, Matt McQuinn, and Alex Teves.

Someone should have told Air Force Staff Sergeant Jesse Childress to fling himself in front of a woman. It appears there is little valor in — and little to be remembered for — saving a fellow airman.

The basic facts are well known by now. On July 20th during a midnight screening of the film The Dark Knight Rises at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, a gunman shot into the audience killing 12 people and injuring 58 others. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, wore protective gear and clothing, set off tear gas grenades, and shot into the audience with multiple firearms. He is under arrest.

It was Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I aviator, who said, “Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” While we will never know whether or not the four men were scared, we are sure they showed courage in the midst of an atrocity.

What we do know from the reports coming forth are that three of these four men thought first to protect their girlfriends and second of their own safety. And one of these men, thought first to protect his fellow airman and second of his own safety.

We do not have any reports of women hurling themselves in front of their boyfriends or anyone else accompanying them.

Jonathan Blunk pushed his girlfriend Jansen Young on the ground
and under her seat. He then threw his body on top of her and died there. Blunk, 26, had served three tours in the Persian Gulf and North Arabian Sea between 2004 and 2009. He had plans to re-enlist in the Navy with the goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. In addition to his girlfriend, Blunk leaves his estranged wife, Chantel Blunk and their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in Reno.

Alexe Teves hurled his girlfriend Amanda Lindgren to the floor as the bullets started to fly. He never made it to hit the floor himself. He was struck before he could get down. The 24-year-old Phoenix native earned a master’s degree in counseling psychology in June. Teves was planning to become a psychiatrist.

As the attack in the movie theater unfolded, Matt McQuinn dove in front of his girlfriend, Samantha Yowler. He died protecting her. Yowler was shot in the knee at the theater. McQuinn and Yowler moved to Colorado from Ohio last fall.

By most accounts, Jesse Childress was an Air Force cyber-systems operator based at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora. I had to keep reading to find a reference to his protecting his fellow airman and saving his life. Most of the stories about “heroes” focused on Blunk, McQuinn, and Teves. I guess Childress’ fellow airman should have been able to take care of himself.

While we are applauding the four heroes who gave their lives. Please let us remember the other eight whose lives were taken. The oldest was the father of two teenagers. Both his teens escaped the theater. The youngest was six years old and just learning to swim. Somewhere in the middle was a young mother raising two daughters. The other five victims were young and enjoying a night out.

Gordon Cowden had gone to the midnight movie premiere with his two teenage children. At 51, he was the oldest of the victims killed in the shooting. His teenage children escaped the shooting unharmed.

The youngest of the victims killed in the attack was Veronica Moser-Sullivan, 6 years old. She had just learned to swim. Her mother, Ashley Moser, remains hospitalized with gunshot wounds to her neck and abdomen. She has been in and out of consciousness and asking for her daughter during moments of lucidity.

Rebecca Wingo was an Air Force veteran. She was 32-year-old, a working single mother, balancing raising her two daughters with school and work.

Alexander J. Boik, an 18-year-old, had recently graduated from Gateway High School in Aurora. He was to start classes at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in the fall.

Micayla Medek was with a group of about 10 friends. She was 23 years old and juggling classes at Aurora Community College with a job at a Subway sandwich shop.

Jessica Ghawi recently wrote a blog post after surviving a shooting at a Toronto mall, saying it showed her “how fragile life was.” The 24-year-old moved to Colorado from Texas about a year ago.

John Larimer, 27-year-old, was a Navy sailor based at Buckley Air Force Base, where he was a cryptologic technician. Larimer, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Crystal Lake, Ill., joined the service just over a year ago, the Navy said.

Alex Sullivan was at the premiere celebrating his 27th birthday and his first wedding anniversary.

  1. V.E.G. permalink

    John Thomas Larimer is the distant cousin of Alan Burton Hall, a man who gave his life saving a young girl in Florida! Both Hall and Larimer have Tuttle ancestry. “Uncle” Alan Hall is watching the victims and theater goers in Aurora and the world.

  2. V.E.G. permalink

    There is a much bigger hero than John Thomas Larimer: Indian-born Sikh Satwant Singh Kaleka. Kaleka gave his life stopping the gunman and saved dozens of lives and Satwant was the father of the Emmy Award Winner, Amardeep Singh Kaleka. Pura Ho Gaya (His work is complete). Kaleka was cremated per custom.

    • No need to argue about who is the bigger hero; only one man in a thousand would lay his life down for another. I honor the sacrifice and heroism of both gentlemen. May they rest in peace. Thanks for sharing Mr. Kaleka’s story with us.

      • V.E.G. permalink

        You’re welcome! The list of heroes, likewise, will never end.

  3. V.E.G. permalink

    Mary Sherlach
    Dawn Hochsprung
    Victoria Soto
    Rachel D’Avino
    Anne Marie Murphy
    Lauren Rousseau
    Rick Thorne
    Maryrose Kristopik
    Kaitlin Roig
    Natalie Hammond
    Yvonne Cech
    Mary Ann Jacob
    Abbey Clements
    Laura Feinstein
    Janet Vollmer
    Ted Varga
    Aiden Licata
    Jesse Lewis!

    Sandy Hook’s Angels-TED VARGA AND COMPANY!

  4. V.E.G. permalink

    Even the Germans cheer for Jesse Lewis: Yes-seh Loo-Vees!

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