Ill. Fallen Firefighter Memorial, Medal of Honor awards ceremony conducted

The ceremony paid tribute to four firefighters who died in service last year and recognized 23 firefighters for acts of bravery within their communities

States News Service

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis, Governor Pat Quinn and firefighters throughout the state came together for the 20th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighter Medal of Honor Awards Ceremony recently. The ceremony paid tribute to four firefighters who died in service last year and recognized 23 firefighters for acts of bravery within their communities. Honorees were credited for exemplary service to departments throughout the state of Illinois.

“The brave men and women being honored today have shown an incredible amount of courage and devotion,” Quinn said in a news release. “We are eternally grateful for the firefighters throughout the state act with valor and willingly put their lives at risk every day to ensure the people of Illinois are safe.”

Four firefighters who died in, or as a result of, the performance of duty were honored during the ceremonies as their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Fire Marshal Matkaitis.  Those recognized include the late Herbert Johnson, a captain with the Chicago Fire Department; the late Walter Patmon, Jr., a firefighter with the Chicago Fire Department; the late John C. “Winky” Winkelman with the Huntley Fire Protection District; and the late Timothy P. Jansen, a firefighter with the Santa Fe Fire Protection District.

“The four firefighters we lost last year demonstrate the ultimate sacrifice made for the lives of others,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Every single day, these men and women exhibit acts of bravery and put their lives on the line to protect us. Today, I am very proud to thank each firefighter for your dedication to public safety.”

Thirteen firefighters received the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to the citizens of the state of Illinois.  Recipients include:

  • Incident # 12-998, Alton Fire Department
  • Firefighter John Bolling, Alton Fire Department
  • Captain Matthew Williams, Alton Fire Department
  • Lieutenant/EMT John Silva, Chicago Fire Department
  • Captain Robert Morgan, Edwardsville Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Schonlau, Edwardsville Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Tanner Sweetman, Edwardsville Fire Department
  • Incident # 12-8185, Waukegan Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Tom Clasen, Waukegan Fire Department
  • Lieutenant Laura Hedien, Waukegan Fire Department
  • Lieutenant Jack Long, Waukegan Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Neal Olson, Waukegan Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Scott Repec, Waukegan Fire Department

Four firefighters were recognized for acts of heroism or bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger.  Medal of Valor award recipients include:

  • Lieutenant/EMT John Manchester, Chicago Fire Department
  • Lieutenant/EMT Martin Nolan, Chicago Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Dustin Rynders, Waukegan Fire Department
  • Firefighter/Paramedic Rick VanHorn, Waukegan Fire Department

The Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois, was presented to six firefighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding bravery or heroism, by which they demonstrated selflessness and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty, under adverse conditions, with the possibility of extreme personal risk.  Recipients include:

  • Firefighter/EMT James Doyle, Chicago Fire Department
  • Firefighter/EMT Larrence McCormack, Chicago Fire Department
  • Fire Paramedic Sergio Moreno, Chicago fire Department
  • Firefighter Michael Piccolo, Chicago Fire Department
  • Paramedic in Charge John Wodzisz, Chicago Fire Department
  • Lieutenant John Batusich, Lockport fire Protection District

The awards presented today recognized heroic actions during 2012. Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the ten-member Illinois Fire Fighting Medal of Honor Committee. 

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