Nearly 40 firefighters and paramedics were honored Tuesday by the governor and given Medal of Valor and Firefighter Excellence awards for their response to the Highland Park shooting.
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and State Fire Marshal James Rivera honored and recognized numerous firefighters for going “above and beyond” their duties at the 30th Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Medal of Honor Ceremony in Springfield.
State Senator Julie Morrison and State Representative Bob Morgan were also in attendance at the ceremony.
“From the July 4th Highland Park massacre to intractable lithium-ion battery fires to last month’s devastating tornadoes, our firefighters respond to our most daunting emergencies with resolve and selflessness—mitigating disaster, reuniting families, and saving countless lives, while putting themselves in harm’s way,” Governor JB Pritzker said.
“Congratulations to our Firefighter Excellence Award, Firefighter Excellence ‘Unit Citation’ Award, State Fire Marshal Life Safety Award, Medal of Honor, and Medal of Valor awardees. On behalf of the State of Illinois, thank you for your service—we couldn’t be more grateful,” Pritzker said.
21 firefighters and officials from the Highland Park Fire Department were honored with the Medal of Valor award.
The award is given by the State of Illinois to a firefighter for an act of heroism or bravery that demonstrated “courage and dedication in the face of danger while in the performance of duty.”
The Highland Park Fire Department recipients include Fire Chief Joseph Schrage, Deputy Fire Chief Frank Nardomarino, Lieutenant John Brens, Lieutenant Paul Grzybek, Lieutenant Albert Lopez, Lieutenant Erik Mocogni, Lieutenant Eloy Salazar, Firefighter Kevin Best, Firefighter Peter Caruso, Firefighter Peter Goss, Firefighter Christopher Gottschalk, Firefighter Brian McDonald, Firefighter Michael Miniscalco, Firefighter Trevor Mount, Firefighter Beneiamin Oros, Firefighter Michael Pacocha, Firefighter Michael Schmidt, Firefighter Andrew Seibel, Firefighter Micah Swislow, Firefighter Peter Tameling and Firefighter Nicholas Traske.
An additional 17 firefighters of the Highland Park Fire Department received the Firefighter Excellence Award, which is awarded for an act of service in the line of duty “demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to their fellow Illinoisans.”
The Highland Park Fire Department recipients include Battalion Chief William Brennan, Battalion Chief Ryan Hughes, Lieutenant Kevin Maslon, Lieutenant Matthew Stanley, Lieutenant Griffin Van Black, Firefighter Nathan Abbott, Firefighter Richard DiSalvo, Firefighter Jacob Emmerson, Firefighter Brian Fabbri, Firefighter Jacob Flosi, Firefighter Matthew Grasso, Firefighter Kevin Lavazza, Firefighter Michele Molini, Firefighter Thomas Richards, Firefighter Michael Shimanski, Firefighter Steven Urban and Firefighter Jeffrey Wilmot.
“Firefighters serve their communities with pride, honor and loyalty and share a deep bond with their brothers and sisters they serve next to. This memorial stands as a reminder that we shall never forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they loved while selflessly helping those in need,” Rivera said.
“Today, we honored those true heroes while paying respect and gratitude to their service and to their families,” he added.
Firefighters from other fire departments in Illinois also received awards during the Tuesday ceremony.
“Our members took an oath and swore to protect the citizens and property of their respective communities. Day in and day out we respond to countless emergencies across our state,” Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois President Chuck Sullivan said.
“Today we honored those who went above and beyond the call of duty. We also honor those who sacrificed their life in service to others. We will never forget them, their families and their selfless devotion to duty,” Sullivan said.