Charles Barney and Sandra Straw, nominated by Missouri State Highway Patrol

On Feb. 7, 2017, during a traffic stop on Interstate 70 in Lafayette County, Trooper Beau Ryun, of Troop A, observed the driver he had stopped reach into his waistline as he approached Trooper Ryun’s patrol car as instructed. Trooper Ryun had the driver place his hands on the patrol car and frisked him, finding a pair of scissors in the driver’s waistline. The driver refused to follow Trooper Ryun’s instructions and began to fight with him. Trooper Ryun’s handcuffs fell to the ground and were out of reach as he struggled with the driver on the ground. He was unable to radio to inform headquarters of his situation. It was then that two motorists stopped along the interstate and approached. Sandra Straw was already on her cell phone with 911, requesting additional officers, as she approached. Ms. Straw lay on Timmons legs in an attempt to control him and wound up being kicked in the face. The second motorist, Charles Barney, was now on the scene and Trooper Ryun asked him to retrieve his handcuffs. Trooper Ryun also instructed Mr. Barney on how to use his radio to advise Troop A of the situation. Mr. Barney then helped with the effort to restrain the driver. This assistance allowed Trooper Ryun to reach and use his pepper spray on the driver. With the assistance of Ms. Straw and Mr. Barney, Trooper Ryun was able to handcuff the driver. Ms. Straw and Mr. Barney both could have kept driving on Interstate 70. Instead, they both chose to put themselves into a dangerous situation and came to the aid of a trooper, who was able to make an arrest with their assistance.

Raymond Rayford, nominated by the St. Louis Fire Department

On April 22, 2017, a call went out for a structure fire with a person trapped in St. Louis’s Botanical Heights neighborhood. SSt. Louis Fire Department Captain Whitener, who was off duty, immediately responded. He found thick gray smoke pouring out of the two-story residential building. Residents outside the building told him a wheelchair-bound tenant was trapped on the second floor. Captain Whitener charged into the building and up the stairs without any protective equipment. He was followed by a tenant from another unit in the building, Raymond Rayford. The smoke was filling the hallway. Smoke billowed into the room where they found the woman in her wheelchair. She futilely covered her face to try to block out the smoke. Captain Whitener knew time was short because the smoke was building pressure in the room. They pushed the wheelchair to the apartment doorway but furniture blocked the exit. Mr. Rayford threw the furniture out of the apartment to clear a path. Whitener and Rayford then hoisted the wheelchair over the stair railing and down the stair, careful to protect the woman. Once outside, they heard glass shattering. The fire had grown tremendously and was now venting itself out of the room from which they had just rescued the woman. Mr. Rayford’s actions were selfless and his assistance to Captain Whitener critical in the heroic effort to save the life of a trapped wheelchair bound woman. Though an untrained civilian, Mr. Rayford not only displayed concern for human life and a willingness to help a neighbor, but fearlessness and skill during a rescue in which he put his own life at risk.

Cary Stewart, nominated by West Plains Fire Department

On April 28, 2017, Cary Stewart, a West Plains resident and member of the West Plains City Council, participated along with a team of six West Plains Fire Department members who rescued 92 people. The department considers his participation essential to the team’s success and worthy of commendation. Stewart and the firefighters focused on potentially catastrophic flash flooding that was turning small creeks into rushing rivers. Hundreds of homes were inundated. Howell County 911 was overwhelmed with rescue calls. Swift water rescue boats were not available. The team of Captain Wilbanks, Engineers Bell, Hammon and Sholes and Firefighters Brower and Cockrum, along with West Plains City Councilman Cary Stewart, proceeded in a firetruck, using a pike pole to find the roadway. They would continue to improvise in terribly adverse conditions – outfitting a borrowed johnboat and single paddle with forcible entry tools and rope rigging. They made rescues using the firetruck, boat and on foot through waist deep floodwater. In all, 92 people were rescued, with four patients delivered to the hospital by boat. Those rescued included the elderly, injured, a homebound elderly woman on oxygen and about three dozen college students who sought refuge on the roof of a dormitory.