The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 7, 2010
Schwarzenegger to present Medal of Valor awards today

Editor's note, 11:30 a.m.: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that the Medal of Valor event is being held at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will present the State Employee Medal of Valor to 38 people during a 2 p.m. ceremony today at the Crest Theater in Sacramento.

The award recognizes state employees who acted at personal risk to save lives or property. The state has awarded 507 medals since the program began in 1959. Departments and agencies submit their nominations to the Department of Personnel Administration, which administers the program.

There are two types of awards. Gold medals recognize a special act, extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, at great risk to their own life in an effort to save human life. Silver medals acknowledge a special service, extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, at personal risk to their own safety to save human life or state property. This link opens the DPA website that explains the awards in more detail.

The State Worker congratulates this year's winners for their service and sacrifice, and we're proud to present the list of honorees and what they did to merit this high honor:

CAL FIRE

Rick Lee Gibble, of Patterson, Steven W. Blythe, of Yountville, Kyle Efflandt, of Patterson, and Ryan Hollowell, of Patterson, Gold Awards: On May 22, 2008, braved intense heat and flames in an effort to search for a missing person in a burning residence.

Frank A. Abril, of Hemet, Eric R. Connolly, of Hemet, David A. DeLeon, of Hemet, Jose A. Medina, of Hemet, Adam H. Ricketts, of Hemet, and Charles K. Santone, of Hemet, Gold Awards: On September 19, 2009, rescued an elderly woman from her burning residence and safely transported her out of extremely hazardous conditions.

Craig Tolmie, of Sanger, and Ron Eldridge, of Sanger, Gold Awards: On February 25, 2010, willingly exposed themselves to gunfire while assisting fellow officers in apprehending an armed suspect.

Alfredo Danny Suarez, of Livingston, Gold Award: On May 1, 2010, rescued a woman from a burning building and provided emergency medical attention until paramedic teams arrived.

Mark Rodgers, of Fortuna, Rhett Imperial, of Fortuna, Kurt McCray, of Fortuna, and Len Nielson, of Fortuna, Silver Awards: On July 25, 2010, located and rescued two injured women trapped in a car on a steep embankment.

CHP

Ernest Felio, of Crescent City, Gold Award (posthumous): On March 8, 1969, while assisting a car accident victim, rescued a boy from electrocution.

Salvador Gutierrez, Jr., of Oceanside, Gold Award: On September 11, 2009, rescued a trapped driver from a burning vehicle.

Rodney Richards, of Redding, and Jason Smith, of Mt. Shasta, Gold Awards: On September 24, 2009, rescued a trapped truck driver from a burning vehicle.

Sean Haller, of Fresno, and Rafael Rivera, of Fresno, Gold Awards: On February 25, 2010, while under gunfire, willingly exposed themselves to the line of fire while attending to a fallen officer.

Shawn Burkhead, of Moorpark, Gold Awards: On May 6, 2010, rescued a trapped driver from a burning vehicle.

California Military Department

Randall Weatherhead, of Mather, Cole Gould, of Mather, Kelly Hughes, of Mather, and Rob Walters, of Mather, Silver Awards: On June 26, 2008, rescued and provided life-saving aid to an injured Boy Scout trapped in the John Muir Wilderness.

Department of Developmental Services

Teodora "Dora" Bonilla, of Pomona, Gold Award: On February 27, 2010 aided an injured car accident victim in the middle of the freeway and tended to her until paramedics arrived.

Department of Fish and Game

Jorge Paz, of Santa Ynez, Silver Award: On October 17, 2009, successfully prevented a mentally-ill man from jumping off of a 400 ft. bridge.

Department of Motor Vehicles

Merna Velasco, of Hanford, Silver Award: On March 9, 2010, restrained a violent man who was physically injuring another young man.

Caltrans

Robert "Bob" MacKenzie, of San Luis Obispo, Gold Award: On November 30, 2009, located and helped rescue an injured woman trapped in a car on a steep embankment.

Arthur R. Grijalva, of El Centro, Silver Award, and Tommy A. Neri, of El Centro, Pablo Diaz, of El Centro, Leonardo Antonio Necochea Sr., of El Centro, and Pedro Vasquez, of El Centro, Gold Awards: On June 24, 2010, directed freeway traffic away from a burning vehicle and rescued the trapped driver.

California State Parks

Jeffrey Scott Sipes, of Santa Cruz, Gold Award: On June 28, 2009, rescued and provided emergency medical attention to an electrocution victim.

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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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