On May 16, 2022, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., will award the Medal of Valor to fifteen public safety officers, including two officers who died in the line of duty, during a ceremony in the East Room. These awards are for acts of bravery in eight different incidents during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 award cycles. Nine police officers and six firefighters are receiving the award for acts of bravery in the line of duty.
The Medal of Valor is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.
Recipients of the2019-2020 Class:
Assistant Chief Ryan Sprunger of the East Wayne, Ohio, Fire District, was off duty when he responded to a call about several individuals who fell into a frozen pond. Without any thermal protection, and equipped with nothing but a throw rope, Assistant Chief Sprunger jumped into the freezing water to rescue the victims – a grandfather and his two grandchildren. He pulled the grandfather and one child out, and guided medics who arrived to the second child – demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives.
Officers Ryan Smith, Vincent Mendoza, and Robert Paul III of the California Highway Patrol were caught in a gunfight with a violent assailant who had shot and killed their colleague in an unprovoked attack during a traffic stop. The officers went to incredible lengths to protect each other, even as Officer Smith and Officer Paul each sustained multiple gunshot wounds to their legs. Officer Mendoza engaged the suspect so his wounded colleagues could evacuate safely – all three of them demonstrating bravery and composure while enduring a deadly rampage.
Recipients of the 2020-2021 Class:
Firefighter Abraham Miller of the New York City Fire Department rappelled down the roof of a burning residential building – without a solid anchor for his rope – to rescue a five-year-old girl being held out a window by her grandmother. Firefighter Miller smashed the glass, reached through heavy smoke, and saved the little girl as they were lowered six floors to safety – demonstrating brave and decisive action to save lives.
Fallen Officer Jason Shuping and Officers Kyle Baker, Paul Stackenwalt, and Kaleb Robinson of the Concord, North Carolina, Police Department engaged a suspect in a busy retail area who opened fire on the officers and took a woman hostage. The officers fired at the suspect to turn attention away from their colleagues and shielding each other with their own bodies – until they ended the threat. During the gunfight, Officer Shuping paid the ultimate sacrifice. All four men demonstrated courageous action in a volatile encounter with a gunman to protect the public.
Deputy Sheriff Dalton Rushing of the Perry County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office plunged into a frozen lake to rescue a person who had fallen through the ice and remained stuck in hypothermic conditions for 45 minutes. When the victim couldn’t grab on to him and said he was prepared to give up, Deputy Rushing tied a rope to the victim and submerged himself into the icy water until rescuers could pull them both to shore – demonstrating courageous action and uncommon poise to save lives.
Fallen 2nd Lieutenant Jared Lloyd of the Spring Valley, New York, Fire Department repeatedly rushed into a burning nursing home to carry out elderly residents who couldn’t escape in their wheelchairs and walkers. Along with his team, Lieutenant Lloyd rescued all 112 residents. As flames engulfed the building, Lieutenant Lloyd ran back in one more time to make sure no residents were trapped, ultimately sacrificing his life as the building collapsed – and demonstrating heroic actions to protect innocent civilians.
Firefighters John Colandro, Michael Rosero, and Chad Titus of the Stamford, Connecticut, Fire Department dove into freezing water during a blizzard to rescue two trapped occupants of a truck that was rapidly sinking below the waterline. After rescuing one victim, the truck fully submerged and facing strong offshore winds, the rescuers then broke a glass window – while underwater – and successfully pulled the remaining passenger out to safety. All three men demonstrated extraordinary courage to save accident victims.
Officer Anthony Giorgio of the Pensacola, Florida, Police Department, while on a beach vacation with his family, heard screams coming from the water, as swimmers were pummeled by tall crashing waves. Officer Giorgio ran into the dangerous rip current and brought a child back to shore. He then jumped back in the water several more times, and in total, swam approximately 300 yards and successfully rescued two children and one adult in distress – putting himself in grave danger to save lives.