Earlier this week, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. awarded the Medal of Valor to nine police officers, including a North Carolina officer who died 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. The awards are for acts of bravery during incidents in the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 award cycles. Six firefighters also received the award for acts of bravery in the line of duty.
Fallen Officer Jason Shuping and Officers Kyle Baker, Paul Stackenwalt, and Kaleb Robinson of the Concord (NC) 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 shielded each other with their own bodies until they ended the threat. Shuping was killed in the gunfight.
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 after Smith and Paul each sustained multiple gunshot wounds to their legs. Mendoza engaged the suspect so his wounded colleagues could evacuate safely.
Deputy Sheriff Dalton Rushing of the Perry County (OH) 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, Rushing tied a rope to the victim and submerged himself into the icy water until rescuers could pull them both to shore.
Officer Anthony Giorgio of the Pensacola (FL) Police Department, while on a beach vacation with his family, heard screams coming from the water as swimmers were pummeled by tall crashing waves. 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.