WASHINGTON – Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today honored the nation's Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor recipients during a special ceremony at the Department of Justice. The Medal of Valor is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer honoring heroic action performed above and beyond the call of duty. The Attorney General honored recipients from the nation's law enforcement, firefighting and emergency services.
“In a line of work where courageous acts can be part of one's daily duties, these extraordinary men set themselves apart through deeds of incredible self-sacrifice, and we salute them,” said Attorney General Mukasey.
The recipients of the 2005-2006 Medal of Valor are Kevin Howland of Citrus Heights, Calif.; David Loving of Mechanicsville, Va.; Todd Myers of Simsbury, Conn.; Brian Rothell of Richmond, Va.; and Kirk Van Orsdel of Hemet, Calif.. Earlier today, the President presented the Medals of Valor during a White House ceremony in the Oval Office. A description of their acts of valor is attached.
The Medal of Valor, authorized by the Public Safety Medal of Valor Act of 2001, is awarded by the President of the United States to public safety officers cited by the Attorney General. Public safety officers are nominated by the chief or executives of their employing agencies and recommended by the Medal of Valor Review Board.
Additional information about the award, the design and image of the Medal of Valor, the board members, and the nomination process can be found on the Office of Justice Programs Web site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP) provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office. More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/.
Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Synopses of Acts of Valor
On May 22, 2006, Officer Kevin M. Howland, of the Sacramento Police Department in California, was on duty and conducting a search for the vehicle of an armed robbery suspect. Officer Howland observed a vehicle that appeared to be similar to what he was searching for and stopped the car to interview four individuals inside. After talking with them, Officer Howland became suspicious and requested back-up. The driver suddenly accelerated in reverse, striking the leg of the officer, who backed up and drew his service weapon. The suspect vehicle then accelerated directly toward Officer Howland, pinning him between it and his own patrol car. The suspects continued to accelerate through the parking lot with Officer Howland clinging to the hood and firing into the suspect vehicle to stop the suspects’ escape and prevent innocent bystanders from being injured. The suspect vehicle turned, rolling Officer Howland off the hood. Despite his injuries, Officer Howland continued to pursue the suspects on foot. Suffering from fatal gunshot wounds, the driver crashed the vehicle. Subsequently, Officer Howland was able to coordinate the arrest of the remaining suspects. It is his continued diligence—even with injuries—that afforded safety for those around him and led to the suspects’ apprehension.
On August 6, 2005, Firefighter David M. Loving, of the Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services in Virginia, was off-duty when he came upon the scene of a horrific traffic accident on Interstate 95. A motor home traveling at a high rate of speed had rear-ended an 18-wheeler parked on the right shoulder of the highway. As Firefighter Loving stopped to offer assistance, he was advised there were two people trapped inside the motor home. Unable to enter the motor home through the door, Firefighter Loving began to tear apart the vehicle by hand. Despite the motor home filling with smoke and not having any safety gear, Loving climbed inside the vehicle and made his way to the conscious victim. Fighting smoke, he was able to untangle the victim from debris and pull him to safety. Within minutes, the motor home was engulfed in flames. Without Firefighter Loving’s assistance, witnesses said the victim would have died prior to the arrival of the first responding emergency unit.
On July 29, 2005, Officer Todd M. Myers, of the West Hartford Police Department in Connecticut, was off-duty and on his way to work when he witnessed a dump truck lose control, speed downhill, and veer into oncoming traffic. The truck overturned and slid on its side, destroying many vehicles before it burst into flames. Officer Myers, 100 yards away in his personal vehicle, ran toward the scene as gas tanks from cars around him began to explode. Risking his own safety, he cut a trapped female driver from one of the burning vehicles and suffered first and second degree burns on his right arm as he dragged her to safety. Officer Myers returned to direct responding units, pull other victims from their vehicles, and assist in the care of other victims until paramedics could arrive. Overall, this 20-vehicle crash, which caused four fatalities and numerous injuries, would have been much worse if not for the heroic actions of Officer Todd Myers.
On March 25, 2006, Firefighter Brian D. Rothell, of the Chesterfield Fire and Emergency Medical Services in Virginia, was riding his bike off-duty by the James River when his attention was drawn to a man climbing the railing of the bridge over the river. Firefighter Rothell observed the individual, who shortly thereafter flung himself over the railing. Firefighter Rothell grabbed the man by the sweatshirt and tried securing him, but he was too heavy and continued slipping toward the river. He held the man with one hand as he reached through the railing of the bridge to try and secure his grip. While the man struggled, Firefighter Rothell felt the cloth tear in his hands. As other individuals came onto the scene, they held the man while Firefighter Rothell climbed over the railing and created a leg lock between the bridge and the drainage pipe beneath. Dangling from one arm and leg, Firefighter Rothell pulled the man up to the others who then pulled the man to safety. Firefighter Rothell showed bravery and swiftness of action in reaching out—and hanging on—to save the life of another.
On July 21, 2005, Sergeant Kirk Van Orsdel, of the California Highway Patrol, observed a vehicle that may have been involved in a freeway violence confrontation. Sergeant Van Orsdel’s contact with the vehicle resulted in the suspect firing upon him with a fully automatic AK-47 assault rifle, then entering the freeway with Van Orsdel in pursuit. The suspect stopped on the freeway and engaged in a second exchange of gunfire with Sergeant Van Orsdel. The suspect traveled against traffic, using all of the freeway lanes, with Sergeant Van Orsdel following the suspect in reverse on the right shoulder. The suspect attempted to initiate a shootout at a gas station, but was thwarted by the arrival of Sergeant Van Orsdel. The suspect then hid behind a cement rail and commenced a third exchange of gunfire. In the final gun battle, the suspect used his vehicle as a shield, allowing his car to roll in neutral while firing at Sergeant Van Orsdel, who returned fire with his rifle, incapacitating the suspect. Sergeant Van Orsdel showed exceptional courage in facing three separate gun battles with a suspect whose firepower outmatched his own.