Who should we be giving NROTC scholarships and USNA appointment to - and who should our recruiters be visiting? Well, young men like Jamar Williams.
As the car spiraled across the road and roughly flung her against her seat, one thought echoed through her mind.He is not a kid - someone of his age with that kind of character is a young man ... and the type of person we need in our wardrooms in six years.
"Angels. Save me!"
Her appeals for help were answered when the upside-down vehicle stopped shaking. Two hands reached into the wreckage and pulled her to safety.
"He was my angel," 83-year-old Blanca Toda said as she gestured toward her teenage savior. "I grabbed on to him, and we walked away together."
Jamar Williams, a 14-year-old Kernan Middle School student, modestly averted his eyes.
"I didn't think about it when I did it," he said. "I just wanted to make sure she was still alive."
The shy teen was honored for Toda's speedy rescue at a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office award ceremony Thursday.
He was with his mother, Michelle, a school-bus driver, heading back from a Christmas party hosted by Mayor John Peyton about 6:30 p.m. Dec. 6. They had chauffeured a group of elderly partygoers and were letting them off in a parking lot when he saw Toda's car rapidly accelerate after hitting the cement stops in front of a few parking spaces. She swerved across the lot and appeared to have a stuck gas pedal, according to a Sheriff's Office crash report. The car struck a pole, flipped multiple times and came to rest with its tires skyward.
"He was out of the bus before I could put it in park," Michelle Williams said. "He pulled the emergency door open and ran to where she was stuck in the car."
Toda, who was wearing a seat belt, was stuck in the driver's seat and couldn't free herself. She said a group of onlookers watched the crash but didn't come to her aid.
"They looked petrified," she said.
Before she knew it, Jamar swooped in and freed her from the crushed-metal prison.
Personally, I don't need engineers, though they are nice. I don't need 4.0 Rhodes Scholars, though they are nice. I don't need brilliance, the technical parts of being a Navy officer can be taught to any young person with a standard intelligence and a desire to excel.
What I need is something you cannot teach and cannot build. I need men and women of character who instinctively know what the right thing is and have the mind and spirit for action. You can't teach that. Jamar has it in spades. I hope he can make it through the next few years with his future potential intact - but for now Jamar; BZ.