On Feb. 28, three cadets from the University of North Georgia (UNG) were first on the scene in helping to combat an out-of-control yard fire moments before it made contact with the resident's home.
Cadets Chris Harvey and Hunter Howlin of Bravo Company in UNG's Boar's Head Brigade were giving a city tour that afternoon to international student and fellow cadet Yannick "Fred" Uwase Sekamana when they noticed smoke rising from a nearby residence.
"We were just driving around on Crown Mountain," Howlin said. "We were showing Uwase around Dahlonega and then we saw smoke billowing out from behind a house."
The cadets observed that a yard fire was rapidly approaching the home due to high winds.
Howlin dialed 911 to get the Lumpkin County Fire Department on the scene while Harvey and Sekamana got out of the vehicle and ran to the house. Initially no one answered the door, so they immediately began working to put out the fire until firefighters could arrive.
Homeowner Bill Grier had been burning brush and had stepped inside for a moment when the wind suddenly spread the fire.
"It was pretty close to catching the house on fire," Harvey said. "We had water in the car, so we started using that and stomping out other areas of the fire where we could."
According to the cadets, the wheelbarrow in the yard had begun to melt, and they had to move a riding lawn mower that the flames were close to engulfing.
"We just picked it up and moved it. It wouldn't start," Sekamana said.
Grier's wife, Sharon Thomason, arrived at the home while the cadets were attempting to put the fire out.
"I drove up and saw flames and smoke and three young men in my yard fighting a fire," Thomason said. "I remember them saying 'Ma'am don't go in there!' to which I of course replied 'It's my house — I live here!'"
Sekamana's family is from Kigali, Rwanda, though he was born and raised in France. He said he chose UNG "because it is the best of all the military academies whose curriculum is recognized by the Ministry of Defense back home." He wants to commission into the Rwanda Reserve Forces as an infantry officer while also becoming a businessman in his civil career. Next semester, he hopes to make it through Aggressor Platoon selection to prepare him for his military goals.
Harvey, a 2015 graduate of Brick Memorial Township High School, is from Brick, New Jersey. He is a member of the Rugby Club and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. As an ROTC Scholarship recipient, he plans to commission as an infantry officer into the active duty component of the U.S. Army.
Howlin, a Gainesville, Georgia native, graduated from South Forsyth High School in 2015. His career plans are focused on aerospace engineering.
"We talk about our 'Legacy of Gold' often," said Col. Tom Palmer, UNG's Commandant of Cadets. "Their actions in preventing a tragedy for this family are a shining example of what that legacy is and what it does for the community."
For more information on the Boar's Head Brigade or to visit the campus contact Cadet Admissions at 706-867-2918 or toll free at 1-888-413-9366, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.