Cadet earns Soldier's Medal for his dying act
On Independence Day, Tom Surdyke would have turned 19 years old. Instead, friends, family and classmates mourned and buried the cadet at West Point. Surdyke posthumously received the Soldier’s Medal, the highest non-combat valor award in the Army, for saving a life with actions that ultimately cost his own.

During a one-week break between air assault and cadet field training, Surdyke was vacationing at a beach on Long Island, New York, on June 24 when he and a civilian he'd only met that day got pulled out to sea in a riptide.

"Without regard for his own safety, Cadet Surdyke immediately grabbed the civilian and physically assisted in keeping the civilian's head above water until help could arrive," his Soldier's Medal citation reads. "Before becoming overcome by exhaustion, Cadet Surdyke managed to push the civilian up, enabling a bystander on a paddle board to pull him out of the water, thereby saving the civilian's life.

Within a couple minutes of being incapacitated, onlookers managed to pull the cadet out of the water. A couple minutes later, emergency workers arrived to take him to the hospital. Surdyke clung to life for days, but on June 28, he died.
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