Emotional ceremony for Chicago officers, firefighters as they receive Awards for Valor

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CHICAGO — Friday the city of Chicago honored men and women who put their lives on the line every day.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot presented Chicago firefighters and police officers with medals of valor at city hall.

“It’s not just their heroism but their humility,” Lightfoot said. “Not just courage, but pledge to a city you love and serve.”

The Award of Valor for bravery in the line of duty honored those who went above and beyond and put their lives on the line under extreme conditions in order to save others.

On a frigid December day last year, firefighter/EMT Jaime Delgado, suited up to save a person drowning in Lake Michigan. Winds were about 20 mph and waves were pounding the shore. It made a rescue attempt very dangerous. Delgado e was tethered to land. It was an unforgiving lake on a treacherous day but he was able to bring that person to safety.

Firefighters Matthew Dryden and Patrick Walsh saved a man who was bleeding and acting erratically. The got to him steps before he jumped in front of a Blue Line train.

A fire at 4206 Laramie in December was quickly elevated to an extra-alarm fire after it was learned several people were trapped. Firefighter Daniel Ramos went to the back of the house that was filled with smoke and flames. He was able to open the door slightly and realized an unresponsive person was behind it. He squeezed in and with visibility at zero and flames all around him, Ramos was able to get the victim out and gave the other firefighters a way to fight the flames.

The Paramedic Award of Valor was awarded to field chief Heather McKeon who worked at perhaps the most devasting fire of the year. She was in charge when 10 children were trapped inside a burning coach house at 2224 South Sacramento in August. The crews worked valiantly to save the family members who had critical injuries. Within days all of the children, from ages 3 months to 16-years-old, had died. They had been left alone in the home.

11 Chicago police officers were given special honorable mentions for their service as well, two posthumously.

Officers Conrad Gary and Eduardo Marmolejo were chasing a suspect thought to be armed along the Metra tracks in December of 2018 when they were hit by the train and killed instantly early this year. The men’s fifth district commander accepted the award.

Two other officers were shot and killed in the line of duty in 2018. They received the Carter Harrison Award given to officers who go above and beyond what is required of them. Commander Paul Bauer chased a suspect in the Loop outside the area he served. After a struggle in a stairwell, the offender shot and killed him. His wife, Erin, accepted the honor.

And a year ago this week, Officer Samuel Jimenez ran into Mercy Hospital to take down a gunman. Jimenez was one of the first on the scene and instead of waiting for backup, he engaged the gunman and was killed. His wife Crystal accepted the award on his behalf.

The job of first responders is one of the toughest and most trying. These men laid down their lives to make sure we are safe. Chicago Police Superintendent

Eddie Johnson asked for a kind word or gesture to those who protect and serve.

While none of those honored Friday sought recognition, the Lightfoot said they deserve it all the same.

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