In January 2012, a Hampden-Sydney student attempted to save a close friend from a burning house.
Now, 23-year-old Kirk Rohle has the scars and two awards to show for his act of heroism.
In March, Rohle received the “Governor’s Civilian Lifesaving Award.” June 25, he was awarded the Carnegie Medal along with 12 other recipients in North America. The medal is given “to civilians who risk their lives to an extraordinary degree while saving or attempting to save the lives of others.”
The recent award recipient was humble.
“Looking back at all the award winners, I feel unparallel,” Rohle said. “I thought, ‘Wow, really? That guy has a purple heart!’”
Upon receiving the Carnegie Medal, Rohle will also be given a $5,000 grant, which will go toward laser treatment to help get rid of redness from scarring.
The day the fire broke out in Rohle’s building, he fled immediately. However, when he got to safety he realized his buddy Ben Rogers was missing. Rohle re-entered the building in search for him. Rogers was able to safely exit the burning building with minimal injuries. Rohle, however, suffered second and third degree burns during the rescue effort.
After a fairly long recovery at VCU Medical Center, Rohle pulled through, healed well and was still able to graduate from Hampden-Syndey College.
“I’m a good example of how a successful surgery goes,” Rohle said.
He added that he feels 110 percent and almost even better than he did before the fire.
Besides the scarring and one fire-related nightmare at the hospital, Rohle has only had positive outcomes from this scary event.
If he had to go back in time and relive the event, Rohle said he wouldn’t change a single thing, adding anyone would’ve done what he did.
“I think there’s a little bit of a hero in everyone,” he added.
Rohle decided to give back to his community and share the lessons he’s learned from the experience by speaking at various colleges about the importance of fire safety. He said he wants to remind students “hey, you need a plan.”