Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder today awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor to 18 public safety officers who exhibited exceptional courage in saving and protecting others and whose heroic actions were above and beyond the call of duty.
“This year’s Medal of Valor recipients have fearlessly responded to desperate cries for help – courageously risking their own lives to secure innocent victims, protect fellow officers, and end deadly assaults,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “These extraordinary public servants have distinguished themselves by going above and beyond the call of duty. And today, I am honored to join Vice President Biden in bestowing one of our nation’s most prestigious decorations on each of these heroes.”
The Medal of Valor, authorized by the Public Safety Medal of Valor Act of 2001, is awarded by the President of the United States to public safety officers cited by the Attorney General. Public safety officers are nominated by the chiefs or directors of their employing agencies and recommended by the Medal of Valor Review Board. The Attorney General has designated the department’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) to serve as the federal point of contact for the Medal of Valor initiative. OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), led by Director Denise E. O’Donnell, administers the Medal of Valor initiative.
“We recognize 18 extraordinary individuals for their quick thinking, selflessness and exceptional courage,” said Office of Justice Program Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary. “They are law enforcement, corrections officers, and firefighters who went beyond the call of duty to risk – and in some cases, to give – their lives for their fellow citizens and colleagues.”
“The Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor is the highest national award for valor awarded to a public safety officer,” said Bureau of Justice Assistance Director, Denise E. O’Donnell. “BJA is proud to administer a program which serves to recognize the exceptionally brave actions of individuals who have given selflessly in order to protect citizens and communities throughout our nation.”
Including today’s awardees, a total of 78 medals have been presented since the first recipients were honored in 2003. More information about the award and today’s recipients, the Medal of Valor Review Board members, and the nomination process is on the OJP website at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/medalofvalor .
Officer Julie Olson, Maplewood Police Department, Minn.
Officer Reeshemah Taylor, Osceola County Corrections Department, Fla.
Wildlife Officer Michael Neal, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Officer Sean Haller and Officer Rafael Rivera, California Highway Patrol
Trooper Robert Lombardo and fallen Trooper Joshua Miller, Pennsylvania State Police
Firefighter Peter Demontreux, New York City Fire Department
Firefighter Hope Scott and Captain William Reynolds, Virginia Beach Fire Department, Va.
Deputy Sheriff Krista McDonald, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Wash.
Officers Timothy McClintick, Max McDonald, Douglas Weaver, Sergeant Karl Lounge Jr. and fallen Sergeant Thomas Baitinger, St. Petersburg Police Department, Fla.
Fallen Deputies William Stiltner and Cameron Justus, Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, Va.
Vice President Biden Honors Public Safety Officers with Medal of Valor
Colleen Curtis February 20, 2013 06:11 PM EST
Vice President Joe Biden today recognized 18 public safety officers for exhibiting exceptional courage in a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House. The Medal of Valor is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer, and it is bestowed on those whose heroic actions were above and beyond the call of duty.
The Vice President, who was joined by Attorney General Eric Holder, highlighted the bravery of the men and women who were being honored, and paid tribute to the spouses of the recipients who had lost their lives in the line of duty. He also talked about the special qualities that are unique to those who put themselves in danger to save others:
“My association with firefighters and police has been… the essence of my public life. And as many of these things that I do, I still grapple with what makes you do what you do? I’m just thankful that you do.
You can’t explain it, but you know it when you see it. I see it in the shield over someone’s heart. I see it in the men and women who are sitting here before us today…Thank God for you. You’re from different backgrounds, but you’re the glue that literally binds communities together at times of stress. You’re that face that shows up for a woman on the second floor of a burning building just when she thinks it’s all over for her… The amazing thing about all of you is that the very things you do when you’re on duty to save people’s lives, you do when you’re off duty. There’s no separation.”