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Young American Heroes.

Violence by young people makes headlines too frequently, but among America's youth are unsung heroes whose brave acts deserve more recognition.

The cultural battle over the youth of America appears to have turned for the worse as news headlines all too often announce yet another act of violence committed by young people. But these reports do not accurately reflect the potential for good that is possessed by America's youth. Many young heroes have risen to the call of those in need, and the following are but a few examples of those who have displayed courage and character well beyond their years.

Scout's Honor

Since its founding in 1911, the Boy Scouts of American (BSA) has helped to train more than 100 million American boys in good citizenship, character development, and personal fitness. Only a small fraction of those who enroll attain the coveted rank of Eagle Scout. Eighteen-year-old Scott Leins of Calvert County, Maryland, will soon receive that honor. He credits the Scouts with helping to provide guidance and leadership in his life after his father passed away in 1992.

Scott's courage and character were recently tested when he learned that two people were on the verge of drowning in Chesapeake Bay. In the early evening of July 20th, Dona and Thomas Cook Jr., who rent property in the Chesapeake Ranch Estates, were canoeing on the bay when choppy waters capsized the canoe. Scott was completing his workday as a lifeguard at Lake Lariat, some two miles away, when a security patrolman from the estates informed him of the Cooks' plight. Scott jumped into the patrolman's car and they rushed to the scene. Upon arrival, they saw Mr. Cook clinging desperately to the canoe as Mrs. Cook was being swept along by the strong current in a futile attempt to swim to shore.

The patrolman had called the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), whose police personnel usually handle such situations, but it was apparent that it might be too late by the time they arrived. Scott, who is waterfront certified by the American Red Cross, dove in and began swimming toward the overturned canoe. As reported by Guy Taylor in the Washington Times for July 25th, "he got to the man first, secured him to a lifeguard flotation device and told him he was going for the woman," who was by then about 50 yards away. "When I got to her," Scott later recalled, "she was kind of upset, she was really scared." Holding her head above water, he swam her to shore.

The DNR police, and members of a volunteer rescue squad, had arrived by then. The Cooks were understandably unnerved by their harrowing or deal, but were otherwise unharmed. When it was over, Scott modestly asserted, "I don't know if I would call me a hero. Everybody who was here ... they all responded really well. All I did was jump in the water." But Al Smith, chairman of the BSA's Southern Maryland District, contends that "Scott's quick thinking and prompt actions averted a tragedy. This is a wonderful way to cap off a Scouting career."

Brother's Keeper

Shortly before noon on May 13th, Ethan Heard's father and stepmother began preparing for a family cookout at their home in Arlington, Texas. Nine-year-old Ethan and his three-year-old stepbrother Ian Castillo went outside to play. Ian asked to go swimming, but Ethan told him he could not and sent him back inside. Ethan then began chatting with some neighbors over a back fence.

Moments later, he turned and noticed Ian in the pool. Without hesitating, he dove in and pulled the child out, then ran inside to tell his father. As Mr. Heard began CPR, Ethan dialed 911. His voice wavered a bit, but he gave the crucial information that enabled an ambulance to arrive within about four minutes. Lt. Mark Maginnis, one of the first firefighters on the scene, told Arlington Morning News reporter Jason Trahan that "everything fell into place on that call." Ethan admitted that he was scared, but he was also determined to save his stepbrother, adding: "I really love him, and I didn't know if he was OK. I like the show ER, so I knew what to do."

Ian spent three days in intensive care at a medical center in Fort Worth. Happily, he fully recovered. Mr. Heard told the Morning News that "the first thing he said when we got back from the hospital was, 'I want to go swimming!' His mother nearly had a heart attack."

Ethan met Sylvia Bowers, the 911 operator who took his call, for the first time on June 22nd. She told him, "you did a great job," and described him as "the calmest person there."

Ethan's life-saving effort earned him a trip to Disneyland, and on June 25th he was one of four youngsters who received 9-1-1 Heroes Awards during the National Emergency Number Association's annual conference in Orlando, Florida. The other recipients were:

* Six-year-old Brandon Pope of Centralia, Illinois, who dialed 911 when his mother collapsed. The 911 system lacked a tracing capability, so information given by young Brandon was crucial. He gave the right address and other details that enabled help to arrive without delay.

* Six-year-old Johnny Carr of Santa Rosa County, Florida, who dialed 911 when his father suffered breathing problems. He, too, gave the dispatcher information that enabled emergency personnel to arrive within minutes.

* Seven-year-old Michael Mathis, who was riding in a car with his mother when she suffered a seizure in Thomasville, North Carolina. Mathis was able to pull the car to the side of the road, bring it to a stop, and dial 911 on a cell phone. He gave the dispatcher the location, and medical personnel were quickly on the scene to attend to his mom.

Each award winner and a family member received a free trip to the conference, a Universal Studio Pass, and sundry gifts. Universal's Woody Woodpecker appeared on stage to give each child a medal on a red-and-blue ribbon. Prior to presenting the awards, Nancy Swanson, president of 9-1-1 for Kids, read a letter from President George W. Bush praising the foursome and the dispatchers who handled their calls. Each child also received a congratulatory letter from Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Heimlich Heroes

Nine-year-old Roderick Banks was having lunch with schoolmates in the cafeteria of Chicago's Avalon Park Elementary School on February 2nd when a third-grader began gasping for air from choking on a piece of popcorn. While others in the room froze, Roderick immediately rushed to assist 8-year-old Raphael Wrightington by applying the Heimlich maneuver, which he once saw on a television program. "I put my arms around him and squeezed so the popcorn would come up," he later explained to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rosalind Rossi, "and it did."

Computer graphics teacher Roxanne Moore, who witnessed Roderick's prompt response to the emergency, nominated him for a public school system Good Samaritan award, which he received during the second annual Good Samaritan Awards Dinner on May 30th. "I thought it was beautiful when he jumped up and helped him as quickly as he did," Moore effused. "He was kind of like a little superhero to jump up like that."

In another choking incident, 10-year-olds Andrew Roberts and Sam Thompson were finishing their lunch at Zeyen Elementary School in Garden Grove, California, when they rushed off to play handball with schoolmates. Sam, who had not quite finished lunch, shoved the remaining half of a grilled ham-and-cheese sandwich into his mouth and attempted to swallow it while running. Suddenly, he could not breathe. Though he was able to dislodge most of the sandwich, a piece was stuck in his throat. While other youngsters ran to alert a teacher across the field, Andrew was thinking "he may die if I don't help him." Using what he had learned about the Heimlich maneuver during a Cub Scout class, he wrapped his arms below Sam's rib cage and pushed in and up, over and over. The sandwich remnant soon dislodged.

During an interview with Orange County Register reporter Binh Ha Hong, Sam's mother, Diane, exclaimed, "Andrew's fantastic," and declared that she now cuts her son's sandwiches into small, bite-size pieces. Sam is reportedly giving serious thought to joining the Cub Scouts, while Andrew, though proud of saving his friend's life, prefers not to be called a hero, since it makes him turn red from embarrassment.

His lifesaving effort was honored by Garden Grove police officers at a special school ceremony on June 19th, during which he received awards from the police department and his Cub Scout troop.

Close Call

On April 18, 2000, James Davis and Charlotte Taylor were inside a mobile home in Dothan, Alabama, when a fire broke out in the living room and quickly filled the dwelling with dense smoke. Sixteen-year-old high school student Curtis Tyler Baughman, who lived nearby, noticed the smoke and ran to the scene with his stepfather and another man.

After determining that Davis and Taylor were inside, the two men boosted Curtis to an open window. He then crawled through the smoke until he found Davis, still conscious, on a bed. Pulling the man to the floor, the two crawled to the window, where Davis was lowered to safety by the two men outside.

After taking a few breaths of fresh air, Curtis began the search for Taylor, eventually finding her unconscious on the floor. He dragged her to the window, positioning her so that she, too, could be lowered to safety. The two men then helped Curtis escape as the fire spread, eventually destroying the structure.

Davis and Taylor recovered, as did Curtis, who was hospitalized for two days for treatment of smoke inhalation. In April of this year, Curtis was awarded a Carnegie Medal, given by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission to persons who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving, or attempting to save, the lives of others.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:tales of heroism
Author:Lee, Robert W.
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 10, 2001
Words:1659
Previous Article:Leading America to Victory.
Next Article:Strength from Above.
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