Heroism Award

Heroism Award

2022 Recipients

Anthony Brown, Leak Detection Specialist, City of Asheville.
Anthony saved a man from committing suicide. - Read the story

City of Louisville


Award Criteria

Purpose of the Award: This award shall constitute official recognition of an act of heroism on the part of an employee(s) in the water utility profession wherein he or she, in the process of aiding some other person or persons, must have placed himself/herself at great personal risk.

The Award: The award will be in the form of a medal embedded in a Lucite block.

Eligibility for the Award: To be eligible for this award the employee must, within the past three (3) years, have performed a significant rescue act either on or off the job toward saving another person or persons from loss of life or extreme injury, and in the process, must have placed himself/herself at great personal risk.

The award may be presented to an employee of any water utility, whether or not that utility holds membership in AWWA.

Entry Requirements: Recommendation by a Section board.

Nomination Procedure: Recommendation by a Section leader of the Section board submitted to AWWA Headquarters 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 heroism 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 heroism 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 by a Section leader.
  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 award available for presentation by the AWWA official representative at the next annual meeting of the Section.





 Justin Curtis

New England

 Rescued a 12-year old boy who fell
through the ice in the Nashua River in NH.


 John P. Ruehl

New Jersey


 Apprehended an armed bank robber escaping on a bicycle.            


 Tony Nobles

New Jersey


Seeing an approaching train, he picked up a 92-year old man from from the railroad tracks and carried him to safety.


 Miguel Diaz



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.            


 Geoff Menta



Resuscitated an infant who was not breathing while he was on the job in Lemon Grove, California.            


 Michael McCormick

 Thomas Rose, Jr.

 Mark Graff

 James Malay, Jr.

 Tamaine Roellich

 Richard Skiles

 Patrick Wiley



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 heros to the co-workers' family and had saved his life with their quick-thinking. 



 Pade Dam Municipal Water


(The utility received the medallion encases 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.



 Bill Moran


While repairing a water main one night, he smelled smoke, ran to a house and through a yard with a pit bull, broke down a door and saved the resident form her smouldering home.


 Rafael Figueroa


While carrying out emergency repairs due to Hurrican Wilma, he saved a co-worker from electrocution by kicking him from the electric field of a submerged meter box.


Victor Ellis and Andy Farkas  *



The workers observed a man fall and lose consciousness in the road at a bus stop and arranged for traffic diversion and emergency services.


 Brian Alexander and 
 David LaMar



The employees rescued two persons from a pickup truck which crashed into an 8-foot deep water main break excavation and submerged. 


 Bert Cheney, Mike Wilhelm and   
 Tom Leonard


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.


 Alvin A. Clark


Assisted a minor who had been assaulted.


 Richard T. Lien*


Was attacked by an intruder tampering with water tower; called 911 and subdued the subject.


 Eugene Klister


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.


 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.


 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.


 Mike Sousek and Sam Barlean


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.


 Hank Wallenkamp


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.



 Mike Garofano (Posthumous)


New England


Mike Garofano was an operator of the Rutland Vermont Water Treatment Facility who lost his life in the service of his community in August 2011 during tropical storm Irene.  Mike and his son lost their lives while checking the drinking water source during the storm.



 C.J. Gillaspie
  City of West PWD


C.J. Gillaspie was one of the first responders to the West Fertilizer plant fire, dealing with the water and wastewater system. He and the West Department of Public Works implemented strategies to safely supply water to surrounding systems and contractors.



 Branden Sorrels,
  Koby Haddock,
  Steven Gregory




While working in a vault, a worker struck a gas line and caused an explosion and fire; Sorrels, Haddock and Gregory rescued him and obtained emergency medical attention.



 Darlene Barnwell

North Carolina

Darlene Barnwell rescued an 8-year old from an attack by four large dogs.



Milo Rust

South Dakota

Rescued a young boy who had fallen through the ice in northern South Dakota. Rust was on vacation ice fishing with friends in January when Rust saw an all-terrain vehicle fall through the ice. The vehicle was carrying two men and two children. Rust, along with Morris Most of Rapid City, rescued one of the children by tying a rope into a rescue tool to save the boy. The incident occurred on Shadehill Lake near Lemmon in Perkins County.


Michael J. Stokes


Mr. Stokes and two unknown citizens assisted in the rescue of (2) drivers involved in a car accident near his work site. Mr. Stokes used a large valve key from his City truck to pry open the door and remove the injured driver regardless of the immediate hazard of potential fire and passing traffic traveling at 45 mph.  


Rick Hancock


Assisted in putting out a fire and giving aid to the victim.


Brandon Perry


Assisted victims in a motor vehicle accident.