What she did last summer

Cadet Amanda Lloyd ’19 is a decorated hero.

Rachel Diaz ’20

Rachel Diaz ’20

Amanda Lloyd ’19 received Air Force ROTC’s Gold Valor Award for her part in saving five people from drowning last summer. View full image

“I think anyone would have done the same thing,” says Amanda Lloyd ’19. Which is just the sort of thing a hero says. Lloyd, an Air Force ROTC cadet at Yale, is talking about the time she and three friends saved five people from drowning. The act earned her the Gold Valor Award, AF-ROTC’s highest honor, recognizing “the most outstanding voluntary acts of self-sacrifice and personal bravery by a cadet involving conspicuous risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Lloyd, who grew up in a military family and went to high school in Adams, New York, was expecting a day of fun last July when she and three friends kayaked down a creek near her home in Watertown, New York, to Lake Ontario. But they heard screams in the dangerous six-foot waves of the lake, and they raced to the rescue. (Two of her friends are trained lifeguards, and Lloyd has swum in triathlons.) 

“There was no thought to it—there was no other option,” says Lloyd. “It’s in the middle of nowhere. The fact that we were there at the right time was incredible. It was so meant to be.” One adult in the party of swimmers drowned, but Lloyd and her friends were able to pull the other two adults and three children to safety.

Lloyd started college at Quinnipiac University in  Hamden, Connecticut, where she was a cross country runner; when an injury took her off the team, she joined ROTC as part of the detachment headquartered at Yale. She was majoring in athletic training, but she had such an aptitude for chemistry that her professor told her, “What are you doing? You should be a chemistry major!” So she switched majors—and colleges. Last fall, she joined her cadet friends as a transfer student at Yale.

Lloyd was presented with her award at Yale’s solemn Veterans Day observance in Woolsey Hall on November 10. When her friends in Pauli Murray College found out she was going to get an award, they were ready to go all out. “They said, ‘We’re going to make a giant poster of your head and wave it,’” says Lloyd. “I told them it’s not really that kind of event.”

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