SPRINGFIELD – Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield to remember two firefighters who died in service and honor 39 other firefighters for their outstanding bravery and service to their communities during the 17th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony.
The ceremony began in the State Capitol Complex area with the presentation of colors and an invocation at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, followed by a processional to the Secretary of State’s Michael J. Howlett Building for the awards ceremony.
“The amazing bravery demonstrated by the firefighters being recognized here today proves that it takes an extraordinary person to be a firefighter,” said Acting Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Day in and day out, these men and women put their lives on the line to protect us, and on behalf of Governor Quinn, I am very proud to thank each of you for your dedication to public safety. Today we’re also reminded of the dangers of this noble profession, as we solemnly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty.”
Two firefighters who died in, or as a result of, the performance of duty in 2009 were honored during the ceremonies as their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Acting Fire Marshal Matkaitis. Those recognized include the late Terrance D. Freeman, Sr., a firefighter with the Rockford Fire Department and the late John William Jeffers, an Assistant Fire Chief with the Wellington-Greer Fire Protection District.
The Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois, was presented to two 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.
• Firefighter Joe Martinelli, Chicago Fire Department, who risked his life to rescue an elderly resident from burning building
• Lieutenant Michael McCastland, Oak Lawn Fire Department, who risked his life to save another firefighter trapped in a burning home
In addition, ten 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:
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Teska, Brookfield Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Patrick McBrien, Brookfield Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Nicholas Tomeczko, Brookfield Fire Department
• Lieutenant Jacob Randich, Channahon Fire Department
• Firefighter David Doyle, Chicago Fire Department
• Lieutenant Anthony Ferenzi, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Gregory Swanson, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Michael Hill, Chicago Fire Department
• Firefighter Charles Kingsbury, Mt. Carmel Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Keith Giles, Oak Lawn Fire Department
Seven 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:
• Lieutenant Toby Gill, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Clinton Thompson, Aurora Fire Department
• Captain P. Edward Bermann, Brookfield Fire Department
• Lieutenant Robert Shamasko, Brookfield Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Frank Oliver, Brookfield Fire Department
• Captain Dave Rapp, LaGrange Fire Department
• Captain John DeHaan, Willow Springs Fire Department
Certificate of Recognition awards acknowledge those nominated for awards for their dedication to the principles and traditions of the fire service. The 20 Certificate of Recognition award recipients include:
• Private Abe Sprinkle, Aurora Fire Department
• Captain Joe Franzen, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Jason Moathland, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Jerry White, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Dwayne Love, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Kris Tappendorf, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Ric Torres, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Dan Ahasic, Aurora Fire Department
• Lieutenant Chuck Wonderling, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Randy Leek, Aurora Fire Department
• Private Steve Szilage, Aurora Fire Department
• Battalion Chief Matt Perez, Aurora Fire Department
• Lieutenant Mark Duffek, Brookfield Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Baldwin, Brookfield Fire Department
• Lieutenant David Kosir, McCook Fire Department
• Firefighter/Paramedic Michael Huedepohl, McCook Fire Department
• Lieutenant Mark Stewart, Franklin Park Fire Department
• Firefighter Nick Steker, Franklin Park Fire Department
• Lieutenant David Richter, Franklin Park Fire Department
• Firefighter Daniel Colantuono, Franklin Park Fire Department
The awards presented today recognized heroic actions during 2009. Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the ten-member Illinois Firefighting Medal of Honor Committee.
For more information about the State Fire Marshal’s office, please visit www.state.il.us/osfm.