Three citizens awarded for acts of heroism

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society announced this week the recipients of this year’s Citizen Service Before Self Honors award for acts of courage and selflessness in their daily lives.

Three individuals were chosen from 20 finalists and will be recognized at a ceremony on March 25, National Medal of Honor Day, at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns.

This year’s recipients are:

Michael Landsberry: The Nevada middle school mathematics teacher distinguished himself through extraordinary heroism by shielding students from an armed 12-year-old boy who opened fire at Sparks Middle School on Oct. 21, 2013. Landsberry tried to talk the boy into turning over the handgun, giving the other students time to flee. During this act of courage, Landsberry was fatally shot. He was a devoted father, a retired Marine and a member of the Nevada Air National Guard.

Connor Farland Stotts: The Eagle Scout distinguished himself through extraordinary heroism on the night of a church barbecue in Oceanside, Calif., when he rescued three friends in danger of drowning. Stotts, 17, and five others were swimming on July 31, 2011, when a strong riptide pulled them out to sea. As a junior life guard, Stotts knew the dangers riptides and techniques for escaping them. He risked his life repeatedly to save the lives of three of his friends.

Troy Yocum: During his deployment in Iraq, the Army veteran witnessed the after-affects of battle, as he watched his colleagues struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Upon returning home in 2009, Yocum made it his mission to help veterans struggling with PTSD and depression. He embarked on a “Hike for Heroes,” walking 7,880 miles across America and helping to raise $1.3 million to support over 1,800 military families. In 2011, Yocum founded Active Heroes, a 501(c)3 charity with four programs, including lifetime assistance funds for wounded veterans, a fitness team building program with 10,000 active veterans, a community program repairing over 25 homes for military families, and a healing program to build a 144-acre military family retreat in Shepherdsville, Ky., to combat the veteran suicide epidemic.

This program is a way for the Medal of Honor Society to recognize civilians for extraordinary activities.

“This is a chance to honor Americans who have gone above and beyond in the civilian world. Ordinary individuals who, in a crisis situation, do the right thing at the right time for the right reasons,” says Medal of Honor recipient Barney Barnum. “People like this are what makes America great, so we’ve got to stop and honor them and think about them. They have stepped forward and made us proud.”

This year’s ceremony is open to the public and begins a 2:30 p.m. The ceremony will also be streamed live online here.