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2014 Valor Awards

2014 Valor Awards Photo Gallery

 

2014 Award Recipients

Shift Commander Alan Dudek and Firefighter/ EMT John Marcolini, Forest View Fire Department
We are writing this letter today to nominate two members of our department for The Hundred Club Valor Award. We currently work for the Forest View Fire Department, which is located in Cook County. Earlier last year, our village was devastated by massive flash flooding. The entire village found themselves under water within hours. All but 5 houses were greatly impacted by the flood.
During the evening of the flood, waters rose from the Des Plaines River adjacent to our village. There were numerous calls for the fire department. The water level in the town rose from mere inches to over five feet within hours. Throughout the evening / early morning hours of this event, there were many calls for people to be rescued from the rising water. However, one call stands out that shows the bravery and courage of two members of our fire department.

The Forest View Fire Department received a call from a security guard at the BP Amoco plant, located just south of our residential area of town. The security guard had called 9-1-1, to inform the fire department that he was trapped in the Amoco plant with rising water, and he had no way of evacuating the premises. The fire department had personnel on Harlem Ave, and thought that they may be able to send firefighters in a boat, to enter the property through the front gate and retrieve the man. While firefighters were trying to maneuver the boat towards the entrance of the plant, the boat motor failed, which left the crew unable to continue rescue efforts.
At the same time, Incident Command had dispatched Forest View Engine Co. 813 to the South end of the residential area, to see if they may be able to gain a visual of the victim, who at this point was sitting on the top of his van to avoid the rising waters. The members were not able to visually locate the victim, but had an idea of his general location.

Incident Command was trying to call for a mutual aid department to bring a second boat to attempt this rescue, but that would have taken a significant amount of time. It was already pitch dark out and the waters were still rising. Shift Commander Alan Dudek and Firefighter/ EMT John Marcolini of Engine Company 813 decided that that they needed to try and reach the victim before flood waters overcame the van he was taking refuge on.

Shift Commander Alan Dudek and Firefighter John Marcolini decided that they would try to reach the victim, by crossing through the rising waters. They took the K-12 metal cutting saw from the engine, removed their bunker gear, and with a couple of flashlights, the saw and a rope bag, started to attempt to cross through a back valley towards the rear gates of the plant.

The two of them had to first cut through a chain-linked fence, and then they began a 100 yard descent through waist high water, up a hill and over railroad tracks. After crossing the tracks, Dudek and Marcolini had to walk down the other side of the hill, and cross another 50 yards of waist high water and tall brush, in order to reach the fence surrounding the BP Amoco Plant.

S/C Dudek and FF Marcolini located the victim on top of his van. They used the saw to cut through the back gate of the Amoco plant, and assisted the victim off the van. Dudek and Marcolini then had to cross back to the residential area. They assisted the security guard through the same dangerous flood waters and obstacles. Shift Commander Dudek and Firefighter Marcolini were successful in their return through the waters, and were met at a residential street by an awaiting ambulance, which provided care to the victim.

We think Shift Commander Alan Dudek and Firefighter Marcolini went above and beyond the call of duty that day. They realized the seriousness of the situation, and even after calculating the risks and challenges they faced, selflessly decided to attempt to cross the flooded valley and overcome numerous obstacles, in order to reach the victim and rescue him from a very dire situation. We cannot tell you what would have happened if our two co-workers had not showed the courage and bravery that they did that evening, but we know we are very proud of the job that they did. We are very proud of these two men, and very pleased to be able to work with them every-time we come into work.

Sergeant James Cascone, Chicago Police Department
On September 23, 2013 Sergeant James Cascone was attempting to locate a Domestic Battery offender when he heard rapid fire gunshots near his location.  Sergeant James Cascone then observed three subjects engaged in a gun battle.  Sergeant James Cascone immediately called for an assist.  He announced his office to the offenders and approached the offenders as they continued to shoot at each other. One offender then turned and began to run directly toward Sergeant James Cascone while pointing a handgun at him. As Sergeant Cascone continued to order the offenders to drop their weapons, the offenders refused to do so. Fearing for his life, Sergeant Cascone discharged his weapon at the subject striking the offender in the leg. The offender then halted his advance and fled down an alley. Assisting officers arrived on scene and their search immediately located a fresh blood trail locating the subject shot in the leg. The offender was identified by Sergeant Cascone as the offender. He was placed in custody and transported to the Hospital for medical attention. Additional support units also saturated the area and located a firearm and a quantity of narcotics in their canvas. At the conclusion of the investigation, the offender was successfully charged with Aggravated Assault to a Police Officer, Unlawful use of a weapon by a Felon and Reckless Discharge.

Special Agents Dana Bloss, Frederick E. Osborne, Mark D. Stakem, and Robert L. Walker, FBI Chicago Division
FBI Chicago SWAT (CG SWAT) Special Agents Dana Bloss, Frederick E. Osborne, Mark D. Stakem, and Robert L. Walker are being recognized for their brave and courageous acts performed during the surveillance and arrest of three subjects involved in multiple armed robberies of commercial establishments.

Aaron Russell and Tony Starnes had been identified by the FBI Major Theft Criminal Enterprise Squad (CE-7) as the main subjects in numerous armed robberies of jewelry stores and an armed takeover bank robbery in Poplar Grove, Illinois. An extensive investigation which included pen registers, tracking devices, toll records, and Grand Jury subpoenas, led to the identification of a stolen Honda Civic that the crew used as a “work car.” This vehicle was placed under surveillance and an operation plan was composed to activate the CG SWAT when the vehicle moved.

On the morning of May 10, 2013, Russell and Starnes were observed in downtown Chicago near the work car, and Robert Favela arrived in the vicinity. At approximately 8:00 a.m., the operations plan was activated. SA Walker, the CG SWAT Senior Team Leader, and SA Osborne, CG SWAT Team 1 Leader, activated CG SWAT Agents and they joined CE-7 in surveillance of the subjects. Agents were initially unaware of where the subjects were headed or what they were planning. The subjects, traveling in two vehicles, were followed for over 100 miles to the town of Richmond, Illinois. Once they arrived in this town, Aaron Russell, Tony Starnes, and Robert Favela were observed conducting surveillance on Main Street. The Honda Civic work car and Favela in a Chevrolet Tahoe crossed into Wisconsin. Russell exited the Tahoe and got into the back seat of the Honda Civic. He was observed carrying a bag and once inside the car he and Starnes donned ski masks and gloves. Both vehicles crossed back into Illinois and conducted additional surveillance and counter surveillance in and around Main Street. At approximately 11:30 a.m., Favela parked his Tahoe in a lot immediately adjacent to, and in full view of the Associated Bank, at 10910 N. Main Street, Richmond, IL. Starnes and Russell then pulled into the bank parking lot still wearing ski masks and gloves. Based on past robberies, and information provided by the case agents, the surveillance team believed the subjects were armed with handguns. Authority was given to execute the arrest.

SA Walker ordered CG SWAT to establish a tight perimeter in the vicinity of the bank and he drove his vehicle into position to block the subject vehicle and facilitate the arrest. SAs Bloss, Osborne, and Stakem were passengers in SA Walker’s vehicle. As SA Walker moved his vehicle into blocking position, Starnes quickly reversed the Civic, and collided with a parked car. SA Walker and SA Stakem remained near SA Walker’s vehicle and SA Walker shouted commands at the subjects inside the vehicle. SAs Bloss and Osborne moved towards the subject vehicle to execute the arrest. As SAs Bloss and Osborne approached the Civic, SA Bloss observed Starnes shift the vehicle into drive while shouting commands to surrender. Starnes was not compliant, and he drove directly towards SA Walker who was standing adjacent to his SWAT vehicle. The Civic moved quickly forward endangering SAs Walker and Stakem. SAs Bloss and Osborne shot and killed Starnes as SA Walker stepped onto the driver’s floor board to evade the oncoming vehicle, and SA Stakem provided coverage from the passenger side of the SWAT vehicle. The Civic hit the front left corner of SA Walker’s vehicle and proceeded north through the parking lot until it crashed into a pole. Russell and Favela were arrested. Favela had a sophisticated trap in his Tahoe that held a loaded 9mm handgun, and the Civic contained three loaded handguns.

Agents Bloss, Osborne, Stakem, and Walker willingly exposed themselves to potential serious physical harm or death during this hostile and dangerous situation. As a result of their courageous, decisive, and effective action; an armed takeover bank robbery was prevented, and threats to lives of innocent bank employees and customers was averted.

Captain Maurice Rodriguez, Chicago Fire Department
Engine Company #116
Incident Location: 6433 S. Marshfield, Chicago, IL

The following is a description of his actions from the arriving Battalion Chief Terrance Casey: On the morning of January 18, 2013, at approximately 0919 hours, Engine Company 116, under the command of Captain Mauricio Rodriguez, was the first company to arrive on the scene of a two story, ordinary brick, residential apartment structure with heavy visible smoke conditions in Sector 1 on the 2nd floor.

Captain Rodriguez immediately ordered his members to lead out one line to the 2nd floor.

While his team was advancing the line under extreme heat and blinding smoke, Captain Rodriguez began his primary search in the immediate area of the fire.

It was at this time Captain Rodriguez heard muffled groans coming from the rear of the second floor apartment. Under the extreme conditions, Captain Rodriguez left the safety of his charged hose line with no concern for his own safety, and discovered two male occupants, unconscious, on the kitchen floor and a third person attempting, but struggling to drag one of the victims out onto the rear porch. Captain Rodriguez assisted in the removal of the first victim, and once removed he radioed for EMS assistance. He then returned back to the kitchen and removed the second victim to the safety of the rear porch. Captain Rodriguez was then met by other responding members and as a team began emergency medical treatment as he directed EMS units to his location.

Once both victims were in EMS care, Captain Rodriguez returned to his company to complete extinguishment and overhaul of the apartment.

Captain Alfred Kiefer, Chicago Fire Department
Engine Company #55
Incident location: 2711 N. Kenmore, Chicago, IL.

The following is a description of his actions from the arriving Battalion Chief, Tom Gustafson: During the early morning hours On May 29, 2013, at approximately 0354 hours, Battalion 5, Chief Tom Gustafson was returning from a false alarm when he was dispatched by the Office of Emergency Management and Communication (Fire Dispatch) to a fire located at the incident address.

Seconds later, Fire Dispatch informed him that they had a report of a person trapped on the first floor.  Moments later, Fire Dispatch escalated the alarm to a Still and Box Alarm at which time Chief Gustafson was informed by dispatch that the person was trapped in a rear bedroom with burglar bars covering the windows and preventing his exit.

Upon his arrival on the scene, Chief Gustafson encountered several people on the street in front of a four story ordinary brick constructed residential apartment building approximately 35’ x 75’ with heavy smoke and fire showing from the rear of the 1st floor apartment. As the Chief communicated to the dispatch office of the fire, a young man summoned him by waving his arms and informed him that his roommate was trapped in the rear bedroom.

As Chief Gustafson approached, he encountered heavy, black smoke conditions in Sector 4 billowing out of a rear doorway on the first floor.  As he reached the doorway, he witnessed Engine 55 commanded by Captain Alfred Kiefer pull up in Sector 1. The Chief immediately radioed Captain Kiefer of the need to lead out a hose line to attempt the rescue in the rear apartment from Sector 4.

As Captain Kiefer came down the alley, Chief Gustafson informed him of the reported location of the trapped person, and that he would direct the hose line lead out of Captain Kiefer’s crew.

Captain Kiefer, without hesitation and total disregard for his own safety, entered the building under extreme heat and smoke conditions and crawled into the apartment to begin the search, looking for the bedroom where the victim was trapped.  Captain Kiefer, through the blinding smoke was able to make “verbal contact” with the victim, telling him to “keep talking” so that he could follow his voice.  Shortly thereafter, Captain Kiefer emerged from the apartment with the victim who was struggling to stay conscious and was passed off to awaiting EMS crews. He then returned to his company to complete extinguishment and overhaul of the apartment.

I firmly believe that Captain Kiefer’s actions were unselfish and without regard for his personal safety, while performing a successful, rescue.