Heroism Award

Heroism Award

2023 Recipients

Stephen Shirley
Chris Duncan
Central Arkansas Water (CAW)

"Both Stephen and Chris provided life saving measures by administering first aid to gunshot victims."


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: An exquisite sculpture that embodies the essence of accomplishment and serve as a testament to the recipient's dedication and contributions. Each Heroism award is accompanied by a personalized inscribed nameplate to honor and preserve the recipient's name and accomplishment.

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: November 1st

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.


Past Recipients

Year Recipient(s) Section Act of Heroism
2022 Anthony Brown
Leak Detection Specialist City of Asheville
North Carolina Anthony saved a man from committing suicide. Read the story
2021 Brandon Perry California-Nevada Assisted victims in a motor vehicle accident.
2018 Rick Hancock Alaska Assisted in putting out a fire and giving aid to the victim.
2016 Michael J. Stokes Virginia 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.
2015 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.
2014 Darlene Barnwell North Carolina Darlene Barnwell rescued an 8-year old from an attack by four large dogs.
2014 Branden Sorrels
Koby Haddock
Steven Gregory
Southwest 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.
2013 C.J. Gillaspie
City of West PWD
Texas 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.
2013 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.
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.
2010 Mike Sousek
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.
2009 Terence Robinson New York While working at the site of a water main break, an accident occurred about ¼ mile away.  Robinson ran to the scene and pulled the driver from a burning car.
2009 Matthew Mulica Rocky Mountain Mulica was tubing in Clear Creek and saw a boy floating face down in the water.  He got the boy to shore, administered CPR and saved his life.
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.
2008 Richard T. Lien* Wisconsin Was attacked by an intruder tampering with water tower; called 911 and subdued the subject.
2008 Alvin A. Clark Nebraska Assisted a minor who had been assaulted.
2008 Bert Cheney
Mike Wilhelm
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 Brian Alexander
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.
2007 Victor Ellis
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.
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.
2005 Bill Moran Washington 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 smoldering home.
2004 Pade Dam Municipal Water District California (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.
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-workers' family and had saved his life with their quick-thinking.
2002 Geoff Menta California Resuscitated an infant who was not breathing while he was on the job in Lemon Grove, California
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.
2000 Tony Nobles New Jersey Seeing an approaching train, he picked up a 92-year old man from the railroad tracks and carried him to safety.
2000 John P. Ruehl New Jersey Apprehended an armed bank robber escaping on a bicycle.
2000 Justin Curtis New England Rescued a 12-year old boy who fell
through the ice in the Nashua River in NH.