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'He's a true hero' | A Vietnam Veteran just awarded slain UNCC student, Riley Howell, with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star

Matteo spoke to the parents and siblings of Riley and commended Riley’s actions as a true hero.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This much is clear, Riley Howell saved live.

Reports state the UNC Charlotte student brought a gunman to his feet when he opened fire in Howell's classroom.

Riley Howell was killed. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney said Howell's sacrifice saved lives. Blocked inside a classroom, Putney said Howell had no option to run or hide, so he fought.  

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"He took the fight to the assailant. Unfortunately, he had to give his life to do so, but he saved lives doing so," Putney said about Howell. "He took the assailant off his feet, and the heroes that we have here were able to apprehend from there." 

"Mr. Howell saved lives."  

A Vietnam Veteran and  President of the Purple Heart Society honored Howell for his true bravery at the Waynesville Police Department. 

Thomas "Stormy" Matteo is the recipient of six Purple Heart medals awarded during action with the Marines in Vietnam.

On Wednesday, Matteo presented the family of Riley Howell with a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

During a FaceTime call at the police department, the Vietnam vet spoke to the parents and siblings of Riley and commended Riley’s actions as a true hero.

Thousands of people around the nation have been praising Howell for his selfless actions. The UNCC student was buried with full military honors and was awarded Citizen Medal of Valor. 

Riley Howell's family always knew he was something special. 

"He always was able to put others before himself and never hesitated to help anyone who needed it."