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Washington, D.C. - Attorney General John Ashcroft, joined by Vice President Cheney, today recognized the extraordinary achievements of ten individuals who received the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor in a ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The event marked the first presentation of the Medal, which is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer. The awards are in honor of outstanding heroic deeds these officers performed above and beyond the call of duty.

"With the presentation of this Medal, our nation recognizes the sacrifices and dedicated service of our public safety officers," said Attorney General Ashcroft. "They truly are our national heroes, and it is my privilege to recognize their tremendous courage, dedication to duty, and selfless commitment to their fellow citizens."

The recipients of the 2002 Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor are: Keith N. Borders of Las Vegas, NV; Robert Borer, Jeremy Hosek, Guy Jones, Ron Kennett, Rick Klein, and Mike Wright, all of Lincoln, NE; Robert Giorgio of Cherry Hill, NJ; Eric Svihovec of Miller Place, NY; and Sean VanAtter of Tampa, FL. A synopsis of the acts of valor is attached.

The Medal, authorized by the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Act of 2001, is awarded to public safety officers cited by the Attorney General. Public safety officers are nominated by the chiefs or directors of their employing agencies and recommended by the bipartisan Medal of Valor Review Board. More information about the Board members can be found on www.ojp.usdoj.gov.

Additional information about the award, including the design and image of the Medal of Valor and the application form can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/medalofvalor/presmedalofvalorc.htm - http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/medalofvalor

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
Synopses of Acts of Valor

1) Robert Giorgio, Fire Chief, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Chief Giorgio arrived upon a scene where a vehicle had crashed from a highway overpass onto State Highway 295. The car, with its engine on fire, was suspended some five feet above ground, held in place by a small tree. Chief Giorgio placed himself beneath the suspended vehicle and worked to free the woman trapped inside. At any point, a shift in the car's position would have likely dislodged it from the tree, bringing the burning car down on top of Chief Giorgio. Even as the fire spread in the car, and parts of the car began to melt, Chief Giorgio risked his life to safely free the woman.

2) Keith Borders, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Officer Borders responded to a 911 call in reference to a domestic disturbance. Officer Border successfully removed an endangered woman from the house and placed her safely behind his police cruiser. The suspect, armed with a .38 caliber revolver, a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun and a .12 gauge pump-action shotgun, emerged from the house and opened fire on Borders and the victim. Officer Borders suffered a head wound and significant blood loss. Maintaining his composure, Officer Borders shielded the woman from harm and returned fire, killing the suspect.

3) Eric Svihovec, Volunteer Firefighter, Miller Place Fire Department, New York. Eric Svihovec was in a shop when he saw the taillights of a car disappear off a boat ramp into the water during a storm. Winds were in excess of 30 miles per hour and heavy downpour had reduced visibility to almost nothing. Eric jumped into Mount Sinai Harbor, and found a young mother and her 2-month-old daughter in the car. With the car already partially submerged, Svihovec rescued the mother and got her safely to the ramp. Svihovec returned to the car, which was still sinking. Diving underwater, and after three attempts, Eric Svihovec freed the baby from her car seat and brought her safely to the surface.

4) Sean VanAtter, Firefighter, Hillsborough County, Florida Fire Rescue. Firefighter VanAtter was returning to the fire station in a taxi after having just driven an ambulance to a hospital. On his return, VanAtter came upon an accident involving a tanker truck and a car. The car had slammed into a concrete barrier and was on fire with a family of five trapped inside. VanAtter had the taxi stop so he could rush to the aid of the victims, knowing that additional help would not arrive on time. VanAtter forced his way into the burning car and was able to pull the family out safely.

5) Ron Kennett, Rick Klein, Robert Borer, Mike Wright, Guy Jones, and Jeremy Hosek, Firefighters, Lincoln, Nebraska, Fire and Rescue. Workers were raising a digital telecommunications cable to the top of a 1,524-foot television communications tower - 67 feet taller than the Sears Tower - when a worker was accidentally struck by the cable. The worker was alive, but injured critically and hanging almost 1200 feet off the ground in his harness. Several other fire departments, the State Patrol and the National Guard all responded by stating that a rescue of this type was beyond their capabilities. Lincoln Fire and Rescue personnel Kennett, Klein, Borer, Wright, Jones, and Hosek received permission from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the Mayor, and the Governor to attempt the rescue. The team arrived on the scene and began the more than two hour ascent of the tower. Tragically, the worker died before the rescuers could reach him - but these brave individuals persisted in their climb, and successfully brought the victim to the ground.