Saturday, May 19, 2007
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Ceremony honors fallen firefighters, recognizes 27 others for lifesaving acts of bravery           Send a link to a friend

Hundreds of firefighters gather in Springfield for 14th annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, Firefighter Medal of Honor awards ceremony

[May 19, 2007]  SPRINGFIELD -- Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield on Thursday to remember four firefighters who died in service and to honor 27 other firefighters for their outstanding bravery and service to their communities. It was the 14th annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor ceremony.

Retired Col. Jill Morgenthaler, deputy chief of staff for public safety for Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, addressed the large crowd of firefighters and family members on behalf of the governor.

"The amazing bravery demonstrated by the firefighters being recognized here today proves that it takes an extraordinary person to be a firefighter," Morgenthaler said. "Day in and day out, these men and women put their lives on the line to protect us, and on behalf of Governor Blagojevich, 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."

The ceremony began in the area of the state Capitol complex with the presentation of colors and an invocation at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, followed by a processional to the nearby Howlett Building for the awards ceremony.

Four 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 State Fire Marshal David Foreman. Those recognized were the late Roger Armstrong, a firefighter with the Atlanta Fire Protection District; the late Jeff Irwin, a firefighter with the Eldorado Fire Department; the late Dana MacCrimmon, a firefighter with the Carbondale Fire Department; and the late Harold Taylor, assistant fire chief of the Central Warren County Fire Protection District.

The state fire marshal also presented the Medal of Honor awards, the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois, to four 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. The recipients were:

  • Firefighter Thomas Garswick, Chicago Fire Department

  • Lt. Herbert Johnson, Chicago Fire Department

  • Lt. Joseph Kish, Chicago Fire Department

  • Driver Todd Warrick, Jacksonville Fire Department

In addition, two 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 were:

  • Capt. Daniel McDermott, Chicago Fire Department

  • Firefighter Alejandro Mercado, Chicago Fire Department

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The following 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:

  • Lt. Daniel Ferguson, Chicago Fire Department

  • Firefighter Mark Pecor, Chicago Fire Department

  • Firefighter Kevin Wirtz, Chicago Fire Department

  • Firefighter William Reiter, Edwardsville Fire Department

  • Probationary firefighter Matthew Sinnokrak, Edwardsville Fire Department

  • Firefighter and paramedic John Hutchison, Glenview Fire Department

  • Lt. Paul Klicker, Glenview Fire Department

  • Probationary firefighter Scott Waddle, Glenview Fire Department

  • Firefighter Kevin Holman, Morris Fire Protection District

  • Capt. Jeff Wilson, Morris Fire Protection District

  • Firefighter John Burns, Pekin Fire Department

  • Engineer Jami Lusher, Pekin Fire Department

  • Lt. Tom Robertson, Wilmette Fire Department

Certificate of Recognition awards acknowledge those nominated for awards for their dedication to the principles and traditions of the fire service. Recipients were:

  • Engineer Glenn McAuliff, Country Club Hills Fire Department

  • Firefighter and paramedic Carl Pycz, Country Club Hills Fire Department

  • Firefighter and paramedic Robert Olszewski, Crystal Lake Fire/Rescue

  • Firefighter and paramedic Matthew Thuma, Crystal Lake Fire/Rescue

  • Firefighter Marcos Enriques, Morris Fire Protection District

  • Captain Timothy Smeltzer, Northbrook Fire Department

  • Firefighter and paramedic Scott Ewen, Wilmette Fire Department

  • Firefighter and paramedic Dave Grajewski, Wilmette Fire Department

The awards presented Thursday recognized heroic actions during 2006. Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the eight-member Illinois Firefighting Medal of Honor Committee.

[Text from Office of the State Fire Marshal received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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