State prepares to honor its own for heroism

The state next week intends to publicly honor more than 40 people with the Governor’s Medal of Valor, the highest honor the state can bestow on its employees.

According to the governor’s office, “the medal is awarded to individuals who have performed an extraordinary act of heroism above and beyond the call of duty to save the life of another person, or have risked their own life to save another.”

The program was established in 1959.  Nominations are submitted by state departments and agencies to the Department of Personnel Administration and recipients are honored in a public ceremony. Nominations are submitted by departments and agencies to the DPA.
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.

There are two types of awards.

One is the Special Act Award, a gold medal, for 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.

The second is the Special Service Award, a silver medal, for 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.

The Medal of Valor Award Program is administered by the Department of Personnel Administration.

Last year, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger presented 31 state employees with Medals of Valor at the Crest Theatre. The heroic acts included the rescue of two people caught in a car that had plunged into Lake Mendocino and the shooting of a suspect who tried to run down a CHP officer with a car. The acts that prompted the awards occurred between 2003 and 2007.

 “These professionals come from different departments and agencies within our state government, but what they all have in common is their incredible bravery. The men and women we are honoring today are true heroes in every sense of the word,” the governor said at the time.

The employees also were honored at the Capitol Christmas tree lighting ceremony, with an ornament hung on the tree to pay tribute to each employee. Last year, the governor renamed the Capitol Christmas tree the “Tree of Heroes” in honor of the Medal of Valor recipients.

The 2007 honorees represented the Department of Conservation, Department of Fish and Game, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California Highway Patrol, Department of Mental Health, Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation.
The list of this year’s winners are not yet available. But following is the list of those who won the awards in 2007, their state department and a brief description of their acts of bravery.

Department of Conservation
• Dave Longstreth of Ukiah, who rescued two passengers from a car that was sinking 100 feet offshore in Lake Mendocino on April 28, 2006.

Department of Fish and Game
• James Jones of Suisun City, who prevented injury to a CHP officer by shooting the suspect who was attempting to run over the officer with his vehicle on Dec. 3, 2003.
• Adam Kavanagh of Diamond Springs and John Nores of San Martin, who rescued a fellow warden who was shot and wounded during a marijuana eradication detail on Aug. 5, 2005.
• Frank Milazzo of Mariposa, who helped subdue an armed, suicidal and homicidal man on Dec. 2, 2006.

Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
• David Shew of St. Helena, who stopped a suicidal man from jumping off a freeway overpass on April 27, 2007.
• Richard “Rick” Moore of Sanger, who helped three citizens to safety during a fire on July 3, 2006.
• Jacklyn Bowes, Kelley DeGifford and William Smith, all of Perris, who rescued and evacuated a mother and son from their home during the Emerald Fire on Aug. 29, 2006.
• Ignacio Otero Jr. of Perris, who protected a fellow firefighter from great bodily harm or possibly death during a structural fire on May 9, 2007.

California Highway Patrol
• Erik Quisenberry of Willows, who saved a woman and stopped a knife attack on April 12, 2005.
• Duane Greaver of Santa Ana, Timothy Hall of San Juan Capistrano and Peter Sutherland of Los Angeles, who rescued a suicidal person from a burning vehicle on June 8, 2005.
• Brent Weese of Crescent City, who rescued a woman from a fast-moving grass fire on July 3, 2006.
• Jude Donahue of Los Angeles, who attempted to rescue a man from a burning motor home on Aug. 26, 2006.
• Brian Scott Bushey of South Lake Tahoe, who prevented a woman from drowning in a near-freezing creek on Nov. 3, 2006.
• Brian Elledge of Vacaville, who rescued a man trapped in his burning vehicle on Dec. 2, 2006.
• Corben Whitney of Fresno, who rescued a 4-year-old boy from a burning vehicle on July 13, 2007.

Department of Mental Health
• Clifford Kozlowski of Coalinga and Stanley Streeter of Lemoore, who rescued a state hospital canine unit from drowning in a wastewater treatment pond on Dec. 14, 2006.
• Phillip Scott Nixon of Napa, who prevented an attempted carjacking and robbery on Jan. 22, 2007.

Department of Motor Vehicles
• Nathaniel Williams of Stockton, who rescued an unconscious man from a burning vehicle on Feb. 8, 2007.

Department of Transportation

• Timothy Mooney of Upper Lake, who rescued a severely injured man trapped in the trunk of a car on Jan. 13, 2007.
• Stephen Maraviov of Hayfork, who rescued a woman trapped in her vehicle on a steep embankment for 14 hours on Nov. 24, 2004.
• Chris Ball of Sierraville, who rescued a man trapped in his vehicle after a massive mudslide on Dec. 31, 2005.
• John Fitzgerald of Madera and Anand Kapoor of Fresno, who rescued a woman trapped in her burning vehicle after a traffic accident on May 4, 2006.
• Wayne Moeck and Charles Russell, both of San Diego, who rescued several people from a house fire and also extinguished the fire on Jan. 10, 2007.

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