Col. Walter Joseph Marm Jr. earned the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest and most prestigious personal military decoration – for the courage, integrity, and patriotism he displayed in the Vietnam War. On Tuesday, Marm recognized teacher Megan Pridmore for instilling those same values in her students, on behalf of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
Marm presented Pridmore, a 3rd grade teacher at Bruce Drysdale, with the 2019 Medal of Honor Excellence in Character Education Award, recognizing her excellence in teaching the Medal of Honor Character Development Program (CDP).
“The Congressional Medal of Honor Society has this special program for the past nine years, called the Character Development Program,” Marm explained to a packed school gymnasium Tuesday.
“It’s an honor for me to be here and present this award to Mrs. Pridmore for all she has done to instill the values of courage, commitment, sacrifice, citizenship, and integrity in the youth of our country,” Marm told the school, before sharing some of his own experiences with students.
Marm earned his Medal of Honor as a 1st Lt. platoon leader in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) during the battle of Ia Drang – one of the first battles of the Vietnam War. To break enemy assault from a concealed machine gun that wasn’t stopped by an antitank weapon, Marm singlehandedly charged an enemy bunker to hurl grenades at the weapon and assailants. During his heroic act Marm received severe wounds and was also awarded a Purple Heart.
Marm told students that he was humbled to accept the Medal of Honor on behalf of the rest of the brave men in his company who exhibited commitment and sacrifice for their country. “They were all legends,” Marm said. “My old commander was a Medal of Honor recipient from World War II.”
While most get their Medals from the President of America during a White House ceremony. Marm had a different experience due to his time and location. Marm was awarded his medal at the Pentagon along with another service member.
Since retiring from the U.S. Army, and as a member of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Marm now travels across the country to award citizens like Pridmore with medals of their own.
Principal Laughter said Pridmore’s honor is particularly significant, since the Medal of Honor CDP annually awards only one elementary, middle, and high school educator nationwide – and Bruce Drysdale is only in its second year of implementing the program.
Pridmore said she was initially unsure about submitting an award application essay until her principal, BJ Laughter, encouraged her.
“Because of his recommendation, trust and support in me, I decided to commit to it and write the essay,” Pridmore said.
The essay took time, but Pridmore knew exactly what she wanted to share with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.
“I thought back to the last school year, and to all the students that I worked with and all of our lessons and projects we did,” she said. “I put every bit of that into my essay because I knew that it would show our kids are learning character here.”
By Nicole O’Connor,
HCPS Public Information Office Intern