(COLORADO SPRINGS) — During a ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 5, Information Technician 2nd Class Thomas James was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the highest non-combat decoration the Navy can award for heroism, for his heroic actions the night of the Club Q shooting.
According to the Navy, on the night of the shooting, Nov. 19, 2022, James leapt into action, confronting the shooter and grabbing the barrel of a high-powered assault rifle. James sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen and burns to his hands.
For his bravery in the face of terrifying odds, Rear Adm. Scott Robertson, director of Plans, Policy and Strategy for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, presented the Navy and Marine Corps Medal on behalf of the Navy.
Robertson said he spent some time with James before the ceremony, and when asked why he did what he did the night of the shooting, James simply replied, “I wanted to buy time for my friends. I wanted to protect my community.”
James, along with local brewer and retired Army Maj. Richard Fierro, subdued the shooter until police arrived.
According to a police detective’s testimony, James’ selfless actions continued outside the nightclub when he gave up his seat in an ambulance so another injured person could be cared for and transported to a local hospital.
“I simply wanted to save the family I found,” James wrote in a statement released in November 2022 while he recovered in the hospital. “If I had my way, I would shield everyone I could from the nonsensical acts of hate in the world, but I am only one person.”
Robertson said he asked himself the question, “How would I have reacted?” He said in reality, no one in the room really knows – except for James.
“I myself can only hope that I would channel the courage in our Navy core values like he did,” Robertson said. “But, we don’t have to wait for crisis to apply core values. We can and should apply them every day. That’s what I am taking away from the lessons you taught us all.”