SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday presented 27 state employees with the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor award for demonstrating extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism to save the life of another. The Governor also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor program and unveiled a new, state-of-the-art kiosk to honor all employees that have received the award since the program began.
“Today we are honoring the incredible, heroic acts performed by 27 state employees who selflessly put service and sacrifice above all else, and I am proud to present the Medal of Valor award to these extraordinary individuals.” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “This year, we are also celebrating 50 years of heroic and courageous service by state employees that have not only devoted their professional lives to serve California and its citizens, but have at one time risked their own safety to protect the safety of another. The selfless acts of these employees clearly show that when faced with adversity, they can stand tall to the challenges life presents.”
In celebration of the program’s 50th anniversary, past Medal of Valor awardees were also honored for their courage and heroism when the Governor unveiled the new Medal of Valor Award Kiosk, a stand-alone display gifted to the state by the California Association of Highway Patrolmen. The new Medal of Valor Award Kiosk will be permanently located by the east entrance of the State Capitol and will provide touch screen access where visitors can find Medal of Valor award recipient information. Past Medal of Valor award recipients were invited to attend today’s ceremony at the Sacramento Convention Center.
Additionally, the Department of Personnel Administration (DPA) has created a new Web site dedicated to the Governor’s Medal of Valor awardees that will allow anyone with internet access to view the same information contained in the new Medal of Valor Award Kiosk. The new website can be accessed at www.medalofvalor.ca.gov.
The Medal of Valor is awarded to state employees who have performed an extraordinary act of heroism above and beyond the normal call of duty, at great risk to their own personal safety or life, to save the life of another. There are two types of awards given: a gold medal for a special act when a state employee extends far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to their own life in an effort to save human life; and, a silver medal for special service when a state employee extends above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at personal risk to their own safety to save human life or state property. Since the program began in 1959, 480 medals have been awarded to California state employees. Nominations for the award are submitted by state departments and agencies to DPA, which administers the program.
The 27 employees honored today represent CAL FIRE, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Highway Patrol (CHP), California Military Department, California State Parks, Department of Community Services and Development, Department of Mental Health and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). The full list is below:
Jeff Young, of Clovis, Silver Award: On June 26, 2008, lead a rescue team to save a teenage boy whose leg was trapped by large boulders.
Stephen Charles Guarino, of Sacramento, Gold Award: On October 27, 2008, rescued a man from a burning vehicle.
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Christopher R. Briones, of Blythe, Gold Award: On October 24, 2008, rescued fellow officers who were injured and being attacked by inmates during a dining hall melee.
Scott Woodring, of Atwater, and Adam Yates, of Los Banos, Gold Award: On July 1, 2007, rescued a man from a burning vehicle.
Matthew Casey, of Ukiah, Gold Award: On May 13, 2008, attempted to rescue a woman from a burning car.
Robert Rand, of San Juan Capistrano, Gold Award: On August 10, 2008, prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.
Joseph Tronti, of Riverside, Gold Award: On August 20, 2008, stopped and apprehended an armed man who was shooting at a group of pedestrians.
John Lago and Allyn Ball, of Woodland Hills, Gold Award: On September 12, 2008, rescued numerous victims following the head-on collision of two trains in Southern California.
Michael Stoney, of San Juan Capistrano, Gold Award: On October 27, 2008, prevented a suicidal woman from jumping off a bridge.
Roger Smith, of Red Bluff, Gold Award: On December 2, 2008, while under gunfire, saved the life of a CHP Officer injured by a gunshot wound.
Scott Hennessy, of Redwood City, Gold Award: On December 11, 2008, rescued a man from a burning vehicle.
Joshua Hatfield, of Bakersfield, Gold Award: On January 9, 2009, attempted to rescue a pregnant woman from a burning pick-up truck.
Gregory Houser, Jr., of Atwater, Gold Award: On February 27, 2009, prevented a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge.
Jack Rice, of Blythe, and William S. Strom and Joseph A. Zagorski, of Indio, Gold Award: On March 28, 2009, prevented a suicidal man from jumping off a bridge.
California Military Department
Cari L. Beetham and Christopher M. Davis, of San Luis Obispo, Silver and Gold Award: On June 30, 2008, rescued and provided life-saving aid to an injured woman trapped in her car on a steep embankment.
California State Parks
James W. Nothhelfer and Timothy B. Fellars, of Half Moon Bay, Gold Award: On June 22, 2009, rescued six victims from the ocean when their vessel capsized from rough seas.
Department of Community Services and Development
Luciano Venegas, of Sacramento, Gold Award: On October 12, 2007, prevented possible injuries and a store robbery by confronting and scaring off a masked, armed robber.
Department of Mental Health
Edward Dale Bass, Jr., of Patton, Gold Medal: On March 19, 2009, stopped a distraught, armed man from killing his family and self.
Brandon S. Akers, of San Luis Obispo, Silver Award: On June 18, 2009, intercepted a medically-distressed driver and provided a traffic block to prevent further accidents and injuries.
Tracy Eugene Armstead, of Glendale, Gold Award: On September 8, 2008, attempted to rescue a suicidal man from drowning.
Dale William White Jr., of Bakersfield, Gold Award: On December 18, 2008, pushed two individuals out of the path of a reckless drunk driver.