It was with mixed feelings of pride and loss that George Smith learned that his son was awarded a Carnegie medal for extraordinary heroism.
It became official Tuesday that his son Nathan was the recipient of the honor. He was one of two residents of the Sacramento region who were awarded Carnegie medals for extraordinary acts of heroism.
One award went to Cameron C. Gilbert, a resident of Cool, for pushing away an attacker who stabbed another student at Sierra College. The other medal was awarded posthumously to Nathan N. Smith of Citrus Heights, who died trying to save his brother, Noel B. Smith, who also died, after falling through an ice-covered lake in Shasta County.
George Smith has no idea who nominated his son Nathan for the award. He received a letter quite some time ago saying they were investigating whether Nathan would be a recipient.
Since the loss of two of his sons, "you kinda just go on and do the best you can," said the father, who lives in Browns Valley, Yuba County.
George Smith stressed that his son and another brother, Andrew, who survived, did all they could to try to rescue their brother.
"They did the best they could," said George Smith. "They did everything the way they were supposed to do it but they had no rope."
The Carnegie medal is given to those who risk their lives. The heroes granted the awards today are among 65 honorees given the medals in 2011.
A total of 9,477 people have been given the awards since the Pittsburgh-based fund's beginning in 1904. Recipients or their next-of-kin receive a financial grant.
Efforts to reach Gilbert were not successful. Here are Carnegie descriptions of the acts the heroism by the two local recipients:
-- Nathan N. Smith died attempting to save Noel B. Smith from drowning, McArthur, Shasta County, December 19, 2009.
Brothers Noel, 39, and Nathan, 32, were with another brother on the bank of an ice-covered arm of Big Lake. When Noel's dog broke through ice at a point about 65 feet from the bank and fell into water about 10 feet deep, Noel went after the dog, but he too broke through the ice.
Nathan obtained a metal fence post from nearby and crawled across the ice toward Noel, the other brother following him. Nathan extended the post to Noel, and he grasped it and pulled.
To keep Nathan from being pulled forward, the other brother held him by his ankles. The ice beneath Nathan and the other brother gave way, and they too fell into the water.
With difficulty, the other brother pulled himself onto solid ice, but by then, Noel and Nathan had submerged. Rescue crews arrived shortly and removed them from the water. They were taken to the hospital but could not be revived.
-- Cameron C. Gilbert rescued Alex R. Abrahamian from assault, Rocklin, March 24, 2009.
Abrahamian, 21, was visiting at a college campus and was walking on a sidewalk there when one of the male students, 22, jumped on his back and stabbed him repeatedly with a knife. Abrahamian screamed as he struggled against the assailant.
Gilbert, 19, another student at the college, was walking nearby and saw the attack. He hurried to the men, stepped between them, and pushed them apart.
When the assailant tried to resume his attack on Abrahamian, Gilbert pushed him to the ground. The assailant dropped the knife, which Gilbert then kicked away.
As others tended to Abrahamian, Gilbert stood between him and the assailant until police arrived and arrested the assailant. Abrahamian was hospitalized three weeks for treatment of his wounds, which were severe. He recovered.