Three IAFF members were among the nine public safety officers President Joe Biden honored with the Medal of Valor in recognition of extraordinary acts of heroism and bravery.
During a moving White House ceremony May 16, Biden awarded the Medal of Valor to Lt. Justin Hespeler and Fire Fighter Patrick Thorton of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York Local 94, and retired Lt. Jason Hickey of New York’s Uniformed Fire Officer Association Local 854.
“From small towns and big cities, you’re cut from the same cloth,” Biden said of the honorees. “You run into danger when everyone else runs away from danger. You possess a selflessness that is literally impossible to explain. And your bravery is one that inspires.”
The three fire fighters were joined at the ceremony by Local 854 President James McCarthy, Local 854 Officer Thomas Reilly, and Local 854 Vice President Bobby Eustace, who said the event was “incredibly impressive and humbling” for all involved.
“President Biden has been supportive of fire fighters throughout his time in office. We appreciate him honoring us and his continued support,” said Eustace. “This was a good day for us. We have a lot of sad days in our department, so it was nice to have a good day.”
Hespeler was honored for his heroic rescue of a newborn baby who was unconscious in his crib on the second floor of a burning house in Brooklyn, New York.
“That’s true heroism,” Biden said, of Hespeler, whose actions saved the child’s life.
The medal was awarded to Thornton for his rescue of an elderly man who was trapped under a capsized small craft in the waters off Staten Island.
Hickey was honored for rescuing a drowning man. While on FDNY’s marine training, Hickey heard a distress call come in for a man struggling in the swift waters of the Harlem River. Hickey jumped in the water, secured the victim, and brought him back safely to the rescue vessel.