Medal of Valor 2011 Class, awarded on Oct. 11, 2012
Joseph G. Heath, St. John’s Ambulance Service, and Jeffrey S. Elliot, Springfield Fire Department
On Jan. 15, 2011, fire crews and EMS were dispatched to a Springfield house fire as heavy black smoke poured out of the structure. A young woman raced to the responders, telling them her two daughters were trapped in a bedroom. Medic Heath immediately pulled himself into the burning structure through a broken out window. Despite the intense heat and thick smoke, and his lack of protective clothing or breathing apparatus, Heath was able to find one of the children and pass her through the window to safety. A battalion chief ordered Heath to exit the structure due to the increasing danger. Springfield Fire Department Rescue 1 had arrived on scene and was able to make entry to the house through the back door. Rescue Specialist Elliot entered the burning house and, despite the smoke and heat, was able to conduct a search and locate the second child, who was on the floor in the bedroom. Elliot cradled the child in his arms and carried her outside to awaiting medical personnel. Both girls were treated immediately for second and third-degree burns and survived.
Thomas R. Bacon, Jr., Pattonville Fire Protection District
On April 22, 2011, Pvt. Bacon and other Pattonville Station #1 firefighters sighted a powerful EF-4 tornado bearing down on the station; firefighters were ordered to take cover in a storage closet inside the station. Bacon hesitated because he saw powerful winds blow a small sedan onto the firehouse ramp. The tornado’s debris field was already swirling several hundred yards away; an electrical substation exploded across the street. Despite these life-threatening conditions, Bacon left his position of safety, fighting through the increasing winds to get to the car. He found a frightened husband, wife and three children, and directed them to the firehouse shelter area. Bacon grabbed the last of the children from the car and, fighting the fierce wind and debris, got the child inside as the storm threw him into the engine bay. There, the family took cover with Bacon and the firefighters already inside.
Daryl A. Hall, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
On April 24, 2011, Officer Hall was off-duty in a downtown St. Louis nightclub when he heard gunshots being fired outside. Hall ran outside to investigate and witnessed a gunman firing shots into the air near a group of people. Hall identified himself as a police officer and ordered the gunman to drop his weapon. The gunman then began firing at Hall, who returned fire, striking the gunman several times and killing him. Tragically, Hall was also shot and killed. Although off-duty and without time to call for help, Officer Hall, responded bravely and without hesitation to protect innocent bystanders.
James C. Cooksey Jr., Missouri State Highway Patrol
On June 21, 2011, Trooper Cooksey responded when a sport utility vehicle ran off Route P into a flooded drainage ditch in New Madrid County. The SUV, submerged up to the luggage rack, was rapidly being swept downstream in St. John’s Bayou. Cooksey joined two civilians attempting to reach the driver and free her from the vehicle. The swiftly moving water was murky, and submerged and floating debris posed additional hazards. Cooksey assisted the civilians in getting the victim out of the vehicle and then swam, pulling her toward the bank. Cooksey and another trooper performed CPR until an ambulance arrived. Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts of Cooksey and the other men in the dangerous conditions, the victim did not survive.
Robert C. Siscel, Sunset Hills Police Department
On Oct. 26, 2011, Detective Sgt. Siscel and Patrolman Dan Thompson responded to a 911 call about a home invasion/robbery then in progress. Siscel responded to the rear of the house, where he immediately identified a masked gunman holding an elderly woman hostage. Siscel alerted Thompson and, through the kitchen window, Thompson commanded the gunman to release the victim. The gunman released the woman but moved toward the family room. Siscel ran into the family room through the broken out glass sliding door as he identified himself as a police officer. The gunman entered the doorway between the kitchen and family room aiming his pistol at Siscel from a distance of 10 feet. Siscel ordered him to drop the gun. When he did not, Siscel had no alternative but to use deadly force; he fired a single shot, incapacitating the gunman, who was taken into custody. Soon after, other responding officers arrested a second gunman outside the residence.
Curtis B. Bohanan II, Jefferson City Police Department, and Christopher J. Suchanek, Cole County Sheriff’s Department
On Dec. 10, 2011, a high-speed pursuit of a man suspected of murdering two people in Dent County moved toward Jefferson City on Highway 50/63. Officer Bohanan positioned his patrol car as the second pursuit vehicle. As the pursuit continued in Jefferson City, spike strips were deployed and the suspect’s vehicle struck the strips. Eventually, the suspect was forced to pull over and he entered the Capitol Plaza Hotel parking lot. Bohanan followed the suspect into the hotel lobby, where the suspect fired toward him. Bohanan was forced to return fire.
Detective Suchanek was providing security for a private party at the hotel when he heard the disturbance occurring. Suchanek drew his service weapon and moved toward the sound of gunfire. Unable to see the gunman initially, Suchanek jumped a wall in the hotel’s indoor courtyard, maneuvering until he spotted the suspect, who was raising his weapon to fire again. Suchanek shot the suspect, causing him to drop his weapon and fall to the floor. The two officers handcuffed the gunman, who had been struck by rounds from both officers’ weapons. Their quick and brave actions ended the tremendous danger to hundreds of guests in the crowded hotel.