- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

In a time of heroic acts and renewed appreciation for the brotherhood of police and firefighters, 32 public-safety officers were honored yesterday for their bravery and dedication.

A gold medal and 31 silver medals were awarded to D.C. police officers, firefighters and an FBI agent at the 73rd annual Mayor's Meritorious Service Awards ceremony.

"You have responded with courage and restraint and compassion," Mayor Anthony A. Williams said to the recipients. To the police and fire departments, he added: "Every day, you put your life on the line."

About 600 attended the event, which was held at the Capital Hilton in Northwest.

The gold medal went to Colin Montgomery, 30, a firefighter and emergency medical technician with Engine Co. 23. On May 5, Firefighter Montgomery rode on a call to the 3100 block of K Street NW to help a woman who had broken her leg.

As technicians were taking care of the woman, Firefighter Montgomery learned a man had fallen off a boat in the nearby Potomac River and was entangled by ropes under water. Firefighter Montgomery ran to the river, leaped in, swam 100 feet to the boat, dove down and disentangled the rope. He then held the man up with one arm, while holding onto the boat with the other arm, until a lifeline could be attached to pull the victim from the river.

Silver medals were presented to 17 members of the Metropolitan Police Department, 13 firefighters and an FBI agent.

Six firefighters who were the first to arrive at the Pentagon September 11 received a standing ovation. They spent 10 hours searching the burning building for survivors and then trying to put out the inferno.

Lt. Craig Duck, technicians Kevin Rimm, Harry Wessolleck and Michael LaCore, and Firefighters Jason Moore and Brian Phillips were the six members of Truck Co. 4's Platoon 3 honored yesterday.

When they arrived at the Pentagon and learned their truck couldn't get any closer, the crew grabbed hundreds of pounds of equipment rescue saws, sledgehammers, hooks and similar equipment and carried them 100 yards to the scene.

Braving "extreme heat and thick, black smoke," they looked for survivors on the first floor. They then climbed stairs to the second floor and groped through smoke for survivors, even in closets, without finding any. Called out because of an airplane approaching Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the firefighters returned to the second floor, then to the third floor to complete the search. They fought the fire until they were relieved.

On Aug. 16, Firefighters Erik L. Karlsons and Jan C. Snipes responded to a fire at a group home for the elderly in the 4800 block of Kansas Avenue NW, where some residents were trapped. Breaking in through locked doors, they found an unconscious woman on the second floor, carried her through a broken window to a porch top, and then lowered her down. She was taken to the hospital and survived.

Paramedic Engine Co. 16 and Rescue Squad 1 went to 16th and I streets NW on Sept. 21 to rescue a tower-crane operator 200 feet above the street. Silver-medal winners were Paramedic John H. Farr and Firefighters Thomas T. Keelan, David Keefe, William D. Caudle and James F. Gordon.

Police Officer Ernest E. Waters, a 31-year veteran, received a medal for bringing residents and businesses in the 6th District together for Korean Day on May 19. The event helped defuse tensions, after Korean store owners had been taunted and picketed.

Lt. Juanita Mitchell, Sgt. Martha Creager, Officers Jonathan Geer, Jonathan Jackson, Homer Littlejohn, Casey Royster and Robbie Warren, and Detectives James McDonald and Dennis Williams were recognized for capturing suspects to end a series of cabdriver robberies in Northeast.

Credited with capturing a killer who gunned down a market owner at North Capitol and Bryant streets NW were FBI agent Dan Sparks and Detectives Bob Vacin, Gus Giannakoulias and Thomas Webb.

Lt. Lewis Douglas, Detective Michael Ross and Investigators Raymond Stargel and William Riddle solved 27 armed robberies during September in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd police districts in Northwest.

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