The 1st Armored Division soldier who guided children to safety in the chaos of the El Paso mass shooting has been awarded the Army Commendation Medal.
Army Maj. Darrell Lyles, acting commander of Pfc. Glendon Oakley Jr.'s unit -- the 142nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion -- presented the 22-year-old Killeen, Texas, native with an ARCOM at a ceremony Thursday at Fort Bliss, according to a KWTX.com story.
Oakley had been shopping at the Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso on Aug. 3 when he heard rifle fire from a gunman who had entered a nearby Walmart and started shooting just minutes earlier.
Oakley, an automated logistical specialist, ran to the scene, where he saw terrified children uncertain of where to go. He then started guiding children, carrying some of them, away from the gunfire.
"I just thought about keeping them as close as I could. A couple of them were jumping out of my hands, but the ones I could keep with me, I made sure that they made it to where they needed to be," Oakley said in a recent Army news release. "They were just scared, so I just did what I could do."
Oakley said the training he received while serving in the Army helped him know what to do.
"I did that because that's what I was trained to do and what the military has taught me to do," he said in the release. "I'm thankful to be in the military and for what they've taught me."
Oakley's father is a retired Army sergeant major, his mother a retired Army master sergeant, and his sister a former Army commissioned officer, according to the release.
"He comes from a great family and he's not a selfish person, so it does not surprise me that he's putting others before himself," Bobbie Reeders, principal of Pathways High School in Killeen where Oakley attended, said in the release.
-- Matthew Cox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.