Ceremony Honors Fallen Firefighters, Recognizes 36 Others for Life-saving Acts of Bravery

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–May 12, 2011.  Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield to remember nine firefighters who died in service and honor 50 other firefighters for their outstanding bravery and service to their communities during the 18th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony.

The ceremony began in the State Capitol Complex area with the presentation of colors and an invocation at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, followed by the awards ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

“The bravery recognized here today proves that it takes an extraordinary person to be a firefighter,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Day in and day out, these men and women put their lives on the line to protect us, and on behalf of Governor Quinn, I am very proud to thank each of you for your dedication to public safety. Today we’re also reminded of the dangers of this noble profession, as we solemnly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty.”

Nine firefighters who died in, or as a result of, the performance of duty were honored during the ceremonies as their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Fire Marshal Matkaitis. Those recognized include:

• Firefighter Gary L. Cummins, Brocton Volunteer Fire Protection District
• Firefighter/EMT Corey Ankum, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Edward J. Stringer, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Christopher Wheatley, Chicago Fire Department
• Assistant Chief Thomas Innes, Hindsboro Fire Department
• Deputy Chief Mark Johnson, Hinsdale Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Colin Carey, Homewood Fire Department
• Lieutenant Frank Fouts V, Kankakee Fire Department
• Firefighter Kurt Meusel, Scales-Mounds Fire Department

Certificate of Recognition awards acknowledge those nominated for awards for their dedication to the principles and traditions of the fire service. The five Certificate of Recognition award recipients include:

• Kankakee Fire Department – B-Shift
• Firefighter David Gustafson, Maywood Fire Department
• Firefighter David Krefft, Maywood Fire Department
• Firefighter Anthony Morrone, Mayood Fire Department
• Firefighter Steven Wojtowycz, Maywood Fire Department

Eleven firefighters received the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to the citizens of the State of Illinois. Recipients include:

• Lieutenant Mark Allen, Decatur Fire Department
• Captain Todd McKenzie, Decatur Fire Department
• Lieutenant Adam Ruderman, Decatur Fire Department
• Firefighter Ken Celada, Lincolnwood Fire Department
• Lieutenant Bryan Pierce, Lincolnwood Fire Department
• Firefighter Brian Woznicki, Lincolnwood Fire Department
• Firefighter Michael Stapleton, Quincy Fire Department
• Firefighter Robert Callahan, Waukegan Fire Department
• Lieutenant Doug Camarato, Waukegan Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Troy Lynch, Waukegan Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Tim McGrain, Waukegan Fire Department

In addition, 13 firefighters were recognized for acts of heroism or bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger. Medal of Valor award recipients include:

• Firefighter Lawrence Adamczyk, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Patrick J. Brown, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Raymond Cullar, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant David Leno, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Salvatore Mastrodomenico, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter William Monaco, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Gonzalo Pazmino, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Anthony Pucci, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/EMT Eric Troken, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Robert Underhill, Kankakee Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Babb, Waukegan Fire Department
• Lieutenant Tom Christensen, Waukegan Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Jacob Mount, Waukegan Fire Department

The Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois, was presented to seven firefighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding bravery or heroism, by which they demonstrated selflessness and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty, under adverse conditions, with the possibility of extreme personal risk. Recipients include:

• Firefighter/Paramedic Jason Durbin, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Robert Mansfield, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Chris Reischl, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant/Paramedic Kevin W. Sears, Hazel Crest Fire Department
• Firefighter James Shields, Hazel Crest Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Karra Kopas, Homewood Fire Department
• Engineer David W. Morris, Pekin Fire Department

The awards presented today recognized heroic actions during 2010. Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the ten-member Illinois Firefighting Medal of Honor Committee.

For more information about the State Fire Marshal’s office, please visit www.state.il.us/osfm.

Source: illinois.gov