Florida School Shooting Victim Honored by the Military for Dying a Hero


Stories of the bravery exhibited by students and teachers during the Parkland, Florida, shooting last week have astounded and inspired the nation. Wanting to honor a classmate who died heroically, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School requested that he be honored with a proper military burial -- and the United States Military went far above and beyond to accommodate that request.


Fifteen-year-old freshman Peter Wang -- a member of the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) -- was one of the 17 people killed on Wednesday, February 17. A friend reported that he was last seen in his JROTC uniform, holding open a door so his classmates could escape before being fatally shot by the gunman. "I want people to know he died a hero," said Aiden Ortiz. "He died saving many people."

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A family friend told Sun Sentinel that Wang dreamed of joining the military and being accepted into the West Point Military Academy, a fact that many of his classmates were well aware of. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School maintain that more lives would have been lost if Peter Wang hadn't stepped up to help. Only two days after the shooting, students filed a petition with the White House on We the People asking that Wange receive a "full honors military burial." 

"His selfless and heroic actions have led to the survival of dozens in the area," the petition statement read. "Wang died a hero and deserves to be treated as such..."


The petition required 100,000 signatures and ultimately received over 130,000 in only a few days. On Tuesday, February 20, Peter Wang was laid to rest in Coral Springs, Florida, wearing his JROTC uniform with a Medal of Heroism around his neck. At his funeral, a uniformed army officer presented the teenager's family with a letter informing them that Wang had been officially accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point "for his heroic actions."

In a statement made to NBC Miami, the United States Military Academy said the decision to honor Wang was an easy one: "West Point has given posthumous offers of admissions in very rare instances for those candidates or potential candidate's whose actions exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor, and Country."


Along with Peter Wang, 14-year-old Martin Duque and 14-year-old Alaina Petty -- two JROTC members who were also murdered during the mass shooting -- were honored with Medals of Heroism as well. 

NBC Miami caught up with some of Wang's classmates after the funeral who shared how happy they are that he is being recognized. "He died in uniform and he saved people's lives. He deserves to have a full military burial," said fellow JROTC member Victoria Downing. "I want him to be remembered as a hero because that's exactly who he was."

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Hoping to ensure that no more of their classmates or any students across the country lose their lives in school shootings, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas have organized the March for Our Lives, a countrywide student protest meant to demand government action in gun control legislation. 

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