Courageous Service Award

Courageous Service Award


Award Criteria

To recognize one or more individuals who may not exactly fit the requirements of the Heroism Award, but are deserving of some type of recognition. These individuals may be credited with risking their own life by “staying at their post” in an effort to save their water supply. While they may not have saved someone else, they certainly went “above and beyond” the call of duty.

Purpose of the Award: This award shall constitute official recognition of an act of courageous service on the part of an individual or group in the water utility profession.

The Award: The award will be in the form of a plaque.

Frequency: As deserved.

Eligibility for the Award: To be eligible for this award, the individual(s) must be employed by a water utility and, within the past 12 months, as the result of extraordinary and/or catastrophic events, employee(s) have demonstrated acts of dedication to their profession, so as to ensure and maintain the provision of water and wastewater services to the community(ies) they serve, in circumstances where they have placed the needs of said community above their own safety and well-being.

Entry Requirements: Recommendation by an AWWA Section board.

Nomination Procedure: Recommendation of the Section submitted to AWWA Headquarters by a Section leader on a completed entry form supplied by AWWA.

Nomination or Submission Deadline: None.

Award Committee Membership: The AWWA Heroism and Courageous Service Committee shall consist of a chair and four other members appointed by the chair of the Technical & Educational Council, subject to Council approval.  The chair serves one three-year term and members may serve two three-year terms. An Association staff member shall serve as advisor to the committee.

Method of Selecting Award Recipient: The procedure for selecting an award recipient shall be as follows:

1. The act of courageous service shall be brought to the attention of the Section in the manner of a written report of the incident on an entry form supplied by AWWA.

2. The act of courageous service shall be investigated by the Section and, if deemed worthy, shall be presented to the Section board for approval. The approved entry form shall then be promptly forwarded to AWWA Headquarters.

3. The award report recommendation shall be referred to the AWWA Heroism and Courageous Service Award Committee.

4. The AWWA Heroism and Courageous Service Award Committee shall consider and vote upon the application upon the basis of evidence given. If on the first ballot there is disagreement among members of the committee, the chair shall get in touch with the section advising it of the specific questions raised by the committee and requesting further facts. A second vote shall then be taken and the award shall be granted if not less than 80% of the committee votes in favor of it. In any event, the decision of the AWWA Heroism and Courageous Service Award Committee shall be final.

5. Following approval by the AWWA Heroism and Courageous Service Award Committee, the AWWA Board of Directors will be advised accordingly.

Presentation of the Award: The Section shall be notified of the committee’s decision on all applications. If the award has been approved, AWWA shall make the plaque available for presentation at the next annual meeting of the Section.

Past Recipients
Year Name(s) Section Incident
1990 Charles Gulebian Texas Rescued a woman who had been mugged and was being beaten with a metal bedframe, caught and wrestled with the assailant.
1990 Gordon Zinkowich Wisconsin Rescued a woman who had jumped off a bridge in a suicide attempt.
1992 Jacob Odle, Jr. Ontario Single-handedly rescued two of three fishermen caught in a storm at night who had been in the water for four hours.  The third could not be located and perished.
1993 Dale Freiday Missouri Swam to a sinking van, opened the back door and rescued a 2-yr. old and father.
1995 Dwight Taylor California-Nevada On his water meter route, rescued a 6-year old from a dog attack by a German shepherd-pit bull mix and called paramedics.
1995 Richard Shenoskey Michigan While hooking up a temporary water line, he noticed a 3-yr. old alone in a pick-up truck rolling down the incline of a driveway, jumped in and stopped it before it was hit by an approaching school bus.
1995 Mark Starling Missouri He was operating a backhoe to repair a 20” water main break, when he saw a co-worker loading shoring boards, etc. with his boom truck, dangerously close to an overhead power line.  Trying to warn the co-worker, he couldn’t be heard over the construction noise and ran to the truck, touching it at the same time the boom cable came into contact with the high-voltage wire.  He was struck down, knocking out his front teeth, burning his right hand & forearm and setting his feet on fire.  As a result, he lost most of his right arm and a couple toes, but saved two lives.
1996 Richard Thorson Wisconsin While on his well rounds, Roger heard a police call on his scanner that was just used in the armed robbery of a local store.  He spotted a vehicle matching the description in traffic.  After reporting the license plate, he was asked to follow the van until the police arrived and apprehended the suspects.
1996 James Waller Southwest Waller was en route to a late, after-midnight call when he smelled smoke and observed flames at a residence.  He radioed an emergency call and then rescued a family from their burning house.
1998 Paul Lyons New England A wildlife biologist for the Metropolitan District Commitssion, Lyons was assigned to work at the Quabbin Reservoir.  On Dec. 9, 1997, a small plane plunged into its icy waters.   A life was saved because of his quick action in locating and pulling an unconscious passenger from the water.
1998 Leon Baker Michigan As he drove to a service call, he noticed a fire, reported it and rescued an elderlly resident.
1999 John O’Halloran New England O’Halloran rescued the residents of a house that was leveled by a gas explosion.
1999 Rodney Wilson Pacific Northwest Without a life jacket, Wilson dove into the frigid water of Coos Bay and swam to reach a 13-year old girl who had fallen into the water from a railroad bridge.
2000 Justin Curtis New England Rescued a 12-year old boy who fell through the ice in the Nashua River in NH.
2000 John P. Ruehl New Jersey Apprehended an armed bank robber escaping on a bicycle.
2000 Tony Nobles New Jersey Seeing an approaching train, he picked up a 92-year old man from railroad tracks and carried him to safety.
2002 Miguel Diaz Florida Witnessing a vehicle lose control and skid into a canal, he jumped in and retrieved the driver with a co-worker before the vehicle sank.
2002 Geoff Menta California Resusitated an infant who was not breathing while on the job in Lemon Grove, California.
2004 Michael McCormick
Thomas Rose, Jr.
Mark Graff
James Malay, Jr.
Tamaine Roellich
Richard Skiles
Patrick Wiley
Wisconsin When a co-worker was having a heart attack, they got help, performed CPR, etc.  Note: This did not strictly follow the criteria, but the Heroism Committee felt that the team were heroes to the co-worker’s family and had saved his life with their quick thinking.
2004 Pade Dam Municipal Water District California (The utility received the medallion encased in a lucite stand, and the 30 members of the utility received certificates.)


These employees assisted firefighters in a forest fire which impacted 100,000 residents of San Diego County.

2005 Bill Moran Washington While repairing a water main one night, he smelled smoke, ran to a house and through a yard with a pitt bull, broke down a door and saved the resident from her smouldering home.
2005 Rafael Figueroa Florida While carrying out emergency repairs due to Hurricane Wilma, he saved a co-worker from electrocution by kicking him from the electric field of a submerged meter box.
2007 Victor Ellis and Andy Farkas  * Chesapeake The workers observed a man fall and lose consciousness in the road at a bus stop and arranged for traffic diversion and emergency services.
2008 Brian Alexander and David LaMar Indiana The employees rescued two persons from a pickup truck which crashed into an 8-foot deep water main break excavation and submerged.
2008 Bert Cheney, Mike Wilhelm and Tom Leonard Washington Two workers were saved after  being trapped for 40 minutes in the basement of a booster station which was filling with water by the three employees who quickly found the right shut-off valves and broke down the door with a valve truck.
2008 Alvin A. Clark Nebraska Assisted a minor who had been assaulted.
2008 Richard T. Lien* Wisconsin Was attacked by an intruder tampering with water tower; called 911 and subdued the subject.
2008 Eugene Klister Wisconsin A 10-year old boy was dragged into the rain-swollen Fox River.  Klister was working nearby and rushed to the boy’s rescue to pull him back to shore.
2009 Matthew Mulica Rocky Mountain Mulica was tubing in Clear Creak and saw a boy floating facedown in the water.  He got the boy to shore, administered CPR and saved his life.
2009 Terence Robinson New York While working at the site of a water main break, an accident occurred about ¼ mile away.  Robinsin ran to the scene and pulled the driver from a burning car.
2010 Mike Sousek and Sam Barlean Nebraska The two were working to dismantle a beaver dam when a co-worker was pulled into an overflow pipe.  They obtained help and during rescue operations,kept his head above water, and saved him from being drawn into the pipe.
2010 Hank Wallenkamp Wisconsin As Wallenkamp was driving to pick up repair parts for his utility, he came upon a serious accident.  He blocked the road and turned on emergency flashers and assisted the injured passenger until the EMT’s arrived.  He was commended by the emergency personnel for his professional job of preparing a splint and comforting the passenger.
2018 City of Beaumont Texas City of Beaumont employees went above and beyond call of duty during Hurricane Harvey.