AFA cadet to receive prestigious JROTC award

  • Published
  • By David Edwards
  • Academy Spirit staff writer
Cadet 4th Class Adam McMurray generates headlines just by being himself.

After leaving for the Academy and Basic Cadet Training this summer, he learned he would receive the Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement. This decoration is awarded to both college and high school students and is the highest award given by the Junior ROTC program.

Cadet McMurray was selected in recognition of his leadership and civic activities. This year, only 64 Bronze Crosses were awarded worldwide.

Cadet McMurray said his nomination was a long shot, adding, "I didn't really think anything of it."

In an interview Monday with the Huntsville Times at, he said he doesn't think he "did anything spectacular. I just did my best. That's what I promised to do when I joined."

The upcoming Thanksgiving break allowed Cadet McMurray to return home to Alabama for the award presentation, which will take place Monday. His high school JROTC unit organized the event.

Some Air Force notables will be on hand to lend their star power. Leo Thorsness, a former lieutenant colonel and Medal of Honor recipient, and Michael Durant, one of the people involved in the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia, will be joined by Rep. Parker Griffith, who recommended Cadet McMurray for appointment to the Academy.
The guest of honor said he is most looking forward to "meeting the presenters and picking their brains about life in the military."

Cadet McMurray spent several of his formative years in Colorado Springs. After a couple of moves, the family eventually settled in the Huntsville, Ala., area, where Cadet McMurray attended junior high and high school.

His father, Darrell McMurray, is a 1981 graduate of the Academy who now works for Boeing. The combination of spending part of his childhood in Colorado Springs and being immersed in an aerospace environment piqued Cadet McMurray's interest in the Air Force Academy.

He said his desire to seek a military career was confirmed when he became a volunteer firefighter in his hometown of Hampton Cove, Ala. Within a year, he had become the youngest certified firefighter in the state.

Meanwhile, he was accumulating awards and honors, both academic and extracurricular, like gangbusters. During his senior year of high school, he served as battalion commander for his Army JROTC unit. He won second place in the state science fair and was named to the National Honor Society.

After completing BCT, Cadet McMurray was assigned to Cadet Squadron 29. Next year, he will transfer to CS 38.

"Adam is the most professional and courteous four-degree I've been around," said Maj. Greg Thornton, the air officer commanding for CS 29. "He is also a very humble young man. He shies away from attention. Yet he is always in the thick of helping others out."

That character trait and Cadet McMurray's more than 50 emergency responses as a firefighter came in handy Oct. 17 in San Diego. About 40 minutes after midnight, Cadet McMurray was in a group a couple of blocks away from the San Diego State University campus following the football game between the Falcons and Aztecs.

The bystanders saw a pedestrian in the intersection get hit by a car. Cadet McMurray immediately administered first aid and stabilized the victim until paramedics arrived. The pedestrian suffered broken bones and was taken to the hospital, but he made a full recovery.

Cadet McMurray's quick response earned him the admiration of the officer who responded to the call.

"He was Johnny on the spot," said Sgt. Ronald Broussard of the San Diego State University Police Department. "He basically did everything. The other guys just stood around and watched."

Next week, all eyes will again be on Cadet McMurray. After spending Thanksgiving with his family, he will rejoin his fellow cadets on campus Nov. 29.

And at the rate he's going, he might just rack up a few more headlines between now and then.