ROTC Cadet Rylie Traxler, a senior psychology major, received the prestigious ROTC Medal of Heroism during a ceremony last month at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ.
Traxler was honored with the award for displaying courage and selflessness when she responded to a vehicle accident on August 21, when she was driving with a friend.
“When my friend stopped the car, I got out and ran up to the scene to check on everyone, directed the crowd that was growing to move away from the burning vehicle, and moved the truck driver farther away to the side of a house and sat him down,” Cadet Traxler said. “Myself and another bystander tried to use two fire extinguishers on the vehicle, but it didn’t help much at all. I kept having to direct the people gathered to move away, because if that car exploded they would all get injured.
“I directed another bystander to pull a hose from the nearby house and use it to try to keep the flames down. I asked if anyone had checked the gulley for anyone who may have been ejected, no one had, so I ran over to check.”
This medal is the highest award a ROTC Cadet can earn. When encountering the accident’s immediate aftermath, her first response was to help. Traxler is following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, who both served in the military.
“I do believe that the training and education I have received in ROTC prepared me to confront situations like this. Years ago, I most likely would have succumbed to the bystander effect, froze and not known what to do,” said Cadet Traxler.
According to Traxler, “One gentleman did not survive, but I find comfort in knowing that we did everything we could to try to get him out. It was stressful, but with the leadership skills I have obtained and honed, I felt at ease trying to help as many people as possible.”
Along with ROTC, Traxler is a member of the Women’s Rugby team, and is in charge of public affairs for Shippensburg University ROTC.
At the ceremony for The Medal of Heroism at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, 42 other Army ROTC battalions were present.
“I genuinely think that the leadership skills that I have obtained and the people that I have met trained me for that moment, and during that moment, it was all about doing something,” Traxler said, “Everyone is so proud and that’s the best part of the whole thing, through the Shippensburg ROTC Program and my family, I have a great support system.
Upon Graduating this May, Traxler’s plans are to commission as second lieutenant, either in the medical services branch or the air defense artillery.