First Responders

Uvalde 4th Grader Receives Posthumous Bronze Cross, Girl Scouts’ Highest Award for Bravery

June 2, 2022Matt White

Uvalde Girl Scout Amerie Jo Garza, 10, was posthumously awarded the Girl Scouts of America’s Bronze Cross for “extraordinary heroism.” As the gunman entered her school, she used her cell phone to call police, which may have drawn the gunman’s fire. Images from Twitter.

Amerie Jo Garza, a Uvalde, Texas, Girl Scout and honor student who wanted to be an art teacher and whose favorite color was purple, turned 10 years old on May 6.

For her birthday, her family gave her a cell phone.

Two weeks later, she used it to call for help from inside her classroom in Uvalde as a gunman stormed in and began shooting her teachers and classmates on May 24. By the time the shooting ended, Garza was dead, too.

On Friday, May 27, the Girls Scouts of America awarded Garza the Bronze Cross, the service organization’s highest award for valor, reserved for an active Girl Scout who showed “extraordinary heroism or risked her life to save another’s.”

“Amerie did the best she could to save her classmates and teachers,” the letter that accompanied the award reads.

Garza was one of several students at Barr Elementary who made at least six calls to authorities. It’s unclear which of those calls Garza made. Her father and grandmother have said in interviews that by calling 911, the Uvalde Girl Scout drew the gunman’s attention — and bullets — though it is unclear whether even family members have yet been given a clear minute-by-minute timeline of the events in the school. Other students have said that the gunman targeted students with phones well into the rampage.

The award is a bronze-colored cross bearing the original Girl Scout symbol of an eagle, on a red ribbon, topped with a bar that reads: “For Valor.”

uvalde girl scout
The Girl Scouts of America Bronze Cross, awarded for lifesaving action at risk of a Girl Scouts’ own life. The medal is the Girl Scouts’ original logo of an eagle (the modern logo is a girl’s face in silhouette) on a red ribbon below “For Valor.” Image courtesy of the Girl Scouts of America.

The Bronze Cross is a separate award from the organization’s traditional service and seniority-based Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards, which are comparable to Boy Scout ranks like Eagle Scout. Along with the Bronze Cross, Girls Scouts of America awards a Medal of Honor to Girl Scouts for lifesaving action that does not involve risk to the Girl Scout.

In recent years, the Bronze Cross has been awarded to an Alabama girl who saved two men from drowning, a Florida teen who saved her mother and grandmother from a house fire, and an Indiana 15-year-old who chased down and stopped a runaway minivan that had a child trapped inside after the child’s grandmother had fallen next to the vehicle.

Garza was a Girl Scout Junior, the level within the scouting organization for fourth and fifth graders, and the only one to wear the traditional Girl Scout light-green uniforms (other levels wear blue, brown, and tan).

In an interview with People magazine, Garza’s grandmother said the girl had been especially protective of her 3-year-old brother, Zayne. She kissed her brother every morning before school, according to People. Garza had been both named to the school’s Honor Roll and awarded a “Heart of Gold” award in third grade.

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Matt White
Matt White

Matt White is a former senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine. He was a pararescueman in the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard for eight years and has more than a decade of experience in daily and magazine journalism.

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