Medal of Valor awards given to state workers

One doesn’t often associate heroism and bravery with the state bureaucracy, but they do go together – as the Governor’s annual Medal of Valor awards clear.

Forty-two state employees received the Medal of Valor this year, the highest honor the state bestows upon its workers. The awards, which were launched nearly a half-century ago, honor employees who have risked their lives to save another, or who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help another or to protect the public. Nominations are submitted by state departments and agencies to the Department of Personnel Administration and recipients are honored in a public ceremony.

Although honorees typically include law enforcement officers, fire fighters, and lifeguards, the award also has been bestowed on state employees who did not work in hazardous positions but found themselves in situations where they risked their life to render assistance to someone in imminent danger. The Medal of Valor Award Program is administered by the Department of Personnel Administration.
There are two types of awards.

 Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger congratulates state employees awarded the Governor’s Medal of Valor.

Special Act (gold medal) is an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life.

Special Service (silver medal) is an act of heroism by a State employee extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at personal risk to his/her safety to save human life or State property.

Here is a list of the 2008 honorees, who were scheduled to receive their awards today in special ceremonies.

Department of Fish and Game
Josh Brennan, of Rancho Cordova, Silver Award: On July 23, 2007, he went through extraordinary efforts to rescue an intoxicated man from the bottom of a canyon.

Mary Elizabeth Gregory, of Rancho Cordova, Gold Award: On May 29, 2004, rescued a drowning teen from an ocean lagoon.

Wilbur Dwight Brown, Jr., of Porterville, Gold Award: On June 18, 2008, captured and subdued an armed burglary suspect.

John Guhl, of Sacramento, Silver Award: On May 18, 2008, stopped a disoriented, male driver from injuring himself and others with his vehicle.
Wesley D. Grim, of Visalia, Gold Award: On May 31, 2007, attempted to rescue an infant from a burning home.
Carl Schwettman, Jr., of El Cajon, Gold Award: On October 21, 2007, rescued a missing firefighter during the Harris Fire.

Eric R. Ayres, of Susanville, Gold Award: On December 28, 2007, rescued a woman from drowning when her car landed upside down in a river.

James F. Allen and Franklin T. Johnson, of Mariposa, Gold Award: On February 2, 2008, rescued a young boy from a burning mobile home.

Corey Call, of St. Helena, Gold Award: On May 13, 2008, attempted to rescue a woman from a burning vehicle.

Franchise Tax Board
Jeffrey F. Madeira, of Rancho Cordova, Silver Award: On January 6, 2008, rescued a woman and her dog from a pit bull attack. The woman, along with her 84-year-old father, had been walking near Birdcage Center in suburban Sacramento when the pit bill attacked the smaller dog. The woman was knocked to the ground and suffered sa vage bites. Madeira, a data processing manager, fought off the aggressive dog and aided the victims. The woman’s small dog was killed in the attack.

California Highway Patrol
Jeff Tempest, of Redding, Gold Award: On March 18, 2006, prevented a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge.

Jeffrey Baird, Mark McCormack, Jack Borne, Jesse Borne, Stephen Hunsaker, Byron Jobe, Jeffrey Nousch and Roberta Record, of Mojave, Gold Award: On July 26, 2007, rescued employees of the Mojave Air and Space Port following a hazardous tank explosion. The honorees, without waiting for the hazardous materials team, entered the danger zone and gave aid to victims.
Michael A. Ticknor, of Oroville, Gold Award: On July 31, 2007, rescued two victims trapped under debris from a collapsed bridge on State Route 149.

Aaron Taylor and Kelley Walker, of Bakersfield, Gold Award:  On November 3, 2007, rescued a man from a burning vehicle and administered first aid. As they struggled to free the victim, the vehicle was racked by explosions.

Gary Dana, of San Luis Obispo, Gold Award: On November 11, 2007, prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.

Lawrence Colby, of Beaumont, Gold Award: On December 4, 2007, prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.

Benjamin Adam Glapenske and Kelly Andrew Valdez, of Bakersfield, Gold Award: On March 3, 2008, rescued two men from a burning vehicle on northbound Highway 99 south of State Route 146. The officers went into the burning vehicle and pulled the occupants to safety. Immediately after the second man was pulled from the car, several explosions erupted.

Department of Motor Vehicles
Christopher K. Wagner, of Fresno, Silver Award: On January 29, 2008, saved the life of a CHP officer by shooting an armed suspect. Wagner, an investigator for the DMV, was working undercover with an anti-auto theft unit in Fresno. He was partnered with a Highway Patrol officer. The two were driving in an unmarked car when the officer recognized the driver in a nearby van who was wanted on drug charges. The undercover unit pursued the van, which carried the suspect and three passengers. After the officers stopped the van, there was a scuffle and the drug suspect pulled a 10-inch knife on the CHP officer and they struggled. The suspect, breaking way, then tried to run down the officer with the van. Wagner, who had been questioning the passengers of the van, saw the officer was in immediate peril and fired three rounds from his service weapon.

Department of Transportation
Arturo Arzaga and Eric L. Perkins, of Riverside, Silver Award: On February 25, 2007, rescued a trapped highway cleaning crew member from an overturned van. The van had been smashed by a drunken motorist being pursued by the Highway Patrol on State Route 60 in Riverside County.
Michael Blake, Kyle Robert Gaspard, John W. Kearns, Jr., Leonard Marsh, Dave McDaniel and Scot McKinney, of Pine Grove, Silver Ward: On August 9, 2007, saved lives and property by containing a wildfire. The fire had been caused by trailer-towing inmate bus from Mule Creek Prison. A trailer wheel had come off, causing sparks and a fire. The honorees were able to cut a fire line, manage traffic and save property: Their efforts were credited with two homes.

Alan L. Companey and Shawn Daniel Hussey, of Oakland, Silver Award: On June 18, 2008, helped to rescue a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge. A man had parked his car on the westbound lane of the Bay Bridge just east of Treasure Island, and he had climbed onto the railing about 225 feet above the water. Companey and Hussey were able to engage him in conversation and rescue him.

Brandon Dean Larsen and Brett A. Gronemeyer, of Eureka, Silver Award: On August 7, 2008, helped rescue an injured female motorcyclist from a steep mountainside in Mendocino County.

Robert L. Immoos, of Soda Springs, Gold Award: On April 8, 2008, intercepted a disoriented, wrong-way driver from a possible head-on collision, injury and death. The incident occurred in the Sierra near Donner Summit.

Gregory A. Linden, of San Jose, Gold Award: On June 14, 2008, saved a coworker’s life by pushing aside a falling 300-pound pole. The coworker would have been crushed by the metering poll, which was located on Great Mall Parkway off Interstate 880 in Milpitas.

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