Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation Announces the 20 Finalists for the Citizen Service Before Self Honors
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation today announced 20 finalists for the Citizen Service Before Self Honors, which recognizes and honors those ordinary Americans who become extraordinary through their indomitable courage and selflessness. Ten finalists have been selected for performing a single act of extraordinary heroism:
- John Conley of Barrington, Rhode Island has been recognized for heroically rescuing a woman after her car crashed into the water on August 7, 2010.
- Walter Jennings Fowler of Kaneohe, Hawaii has been recognized for his valiant efforts in subduing and disarming a robber on December 28, 2011.
- Claudia Gonzalez of Kansas City, Kansas has been recognized for heroically risking her own life to save the lives of her two children and attempting to save the third during a house fire on October 1, 2011.
- Donald Melvin of Atlanta, Georgia has been recognized for heroically helping to save the life of an off-duty police officer who had been shot five times by an assailant on May 29, 2010.
- Montel Mixon of Saint Paul, Minnesota has been recognized for valiantly rescuing a woman from her burning home after she had been locked in the bathroom by her boyfriend who had set the house on fire on August 16, 2011.
- Eugene Pitt of New York, New York has been recognized for heroically coming to the rescue of an off-duty police officer who was wounded during an armed robbery on April 16, 2011.
- Michael Thornton of San Antonio, Texas has been recognized for his valiant efforts to help a stranded motorist and to fight against drunk driving after being seriously injured in the line of duty.
- Brandon Wemhoff of Lincoln, Nebraska has been recognized for heroically risking his own life in an attempt to protect the people around him by foiling a robbery on May 29, 2011.
- Keenia Williams of San Francisco, California has been recognized for valiantly risking her own life to rescue a man after his truck had overturned and caught on fire on October 19, 2011.
- Wayne Yirsa of Phoenix, Arizona has been recognized for his valiant efforts in subduing and disarming a man who was severely beating a woman outside of his home on October 24, 2010.
Another ten finalists have been selected for their willingness to sacrifice for others through a prolonged series of selfless acts:
- Sam Below of Menomonie, Wisconsin has been recognized for helping more than 70 former prisoners struggling from substance abuse by helping develop two safe, sober houses that have helped keep many out of prison.
- Marie Bernard of Boise, Idaho has been recognized for volunteering thousands of hours to help returning service members reintegrate back into their communities and families by creating both a non-profit, Twisted Sisters, and a Veterans Court in the state of Idaho.
- Tracy Della Vecchia of Columbia, Missouri has been recognized for developing an informational website in addition to a comprehensive outreach support program to help Marines, their parents and families.
- Victoria Farrar-Myers of Arlington, Texas has been recognized for her selfless efforts in changing and influencing the lives of many students by helping them reach their full potential often at her own expense and despite suffering from Lupus.
- Terrence Kelsor of Newark, New Jersey has been recognized for saving two lives during two separate incidences, one in 1985 and another in 2009.
- Janet Manion of Doylestown, Pennsylvania has been recognized for selflessly serving America’s fallen heroes, veterans and the military community through her creation and leadership of the Travis Manion Foundation.
- James McCormick of New Haven, West Virginia has been recognized for selflessly helping thousands of homeless veterans find jobs and housing through his non-profit, Raising Cane Farms.
- Ted & Doris Redding of Parnell, Iowa have been recognized for their decades of service to others both individually and collectively by volunteering for numerous non-profits and programs.
- Benjamin Whetstone Schmidt of San Antonio, Texas has been recognized posthumously for providing a scholarship fund, the Benjamin W. Schmidt Memorial Scholarship Fund that provides financial assistance to graduate students.
- Mark Swann of Portland, Maine has been recognized for providing decades of service by creating a community resource center, Preble Street Resource Center that has benefited thousands of homeless people.
Profiles for each of the 20 finalists are listed on the Citizen Service Before Self Honors website, www.CitizenServiceBeforeSelfHonors.org. Each finalist will receive an embossed certificate signed by the President of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Citizen Service Before Self Honors are unique, because they are presented to unsung heroes by our nation’s most honored heroes—fewer than 90 living Medal of Honor recipients who comprise the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. The finalists’ actions epitomize the concept of “service before self” and have been performed “above and beyond” their professional area of responsibility or conduct.
A panel, including Medal of Honor recipient representation, considered all nominations and selected national finalists. From among the 20 finalists, a second panel of Medal of Honor recipients will select three individuals to receive Citizen Service Before Self Honors. The recipients will be announced on Monday, March 12, 2012, and honored at a ceremony on Friday, March 23, 2012, at 2:15 p.m. EDT, in conjunction with National Medal of Honor Day, which is March 25, 2012. The ceremony will be held near the shadow of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR SOCIETY
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was chartered by Congress in 1958 to create a brotherhood among the living recipients, to protect and uphold the dignity of the Medal, to promote patriotism and love of country and to inspire our youth to become worthy, dedicated citizens of our country. It consists exclusively of the living Medal of Honor recipients. Today, there are fewer than 85 members, who come from all social classes and race, ethnic and economic backgrounds. They range in age from 23 to 95 and live in all areas of our country. For more information, visit www.cmohs.org.
ABOUT THE CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR FOUNDATION
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society to perpetuate the Medal of Honor’s legacy of courage, sacrifice, selfless service and patriotism. The Foundation supports the objectives, activities and outreach programs of the Society, and raises funds for initiatives such as Citizen Service Before Self Honors, that promote awareness of what the Medal of Honor represents. For more information, visit www.cmohfoundation.org.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation
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Kelly Dieter, 703-288-8684