St. Johns County Sheriff David Shoar informed Historic City News that he recognized many members of his agency last Friday evening at the 27th Annual Awards Banquet held at the World Golf Village Convention Center.
Shoar bestowed the highest award possible, the Medal of Honor, to deputies William Lennon Jr., and Joeffrey Alvarez. Only one other deputy has received the award which is bestowed only in extraordinary cases where the deputy risked his or her life in the line of duty.
Two deputies received the Combat Medal which is given to a deputy who was engaged in combat with an armed adversary. Receiving that award were Corporal Coby Seckinger and Deputy Shawn Emert.
For his work in combating child pornography, Detective Steve Gazdick received the Deputy Guy White Award; named for the first known St. Johns County Deputy who was killed in the line of duty. Deputy White was gunned down while investigating a disturbance on a Florida East Coast passenger train in March 1911. This award is given to either a law enforcement or corrections deputy who has excelled in their position for the entire year — not for one, single event.
Angela Strausbaugh, Jason Burnett and Joseph Berard were honored as citizens who rendered aid or gave assistance to a law enforcement officer or other citizen. The Abe Schneider Award is named for the citizen deputized to assist Guy White with the March 1911 disturbance in Espanola that cost both men their lives.
Receiving the Captain Hazel McCormack Award was Alicia McWhorter. This award is given to a civilian employee of the Sheriff’s Office who has excelled in their position for the entire year.
Lieutenant Henry T. Aman was recognized for outstanding leadership and honored with the Neil J. Perry Leadership Award; named after the former St. Johns County Sheriff who served 20 years.
Two awards were presented for the top “rookies” in Corrections and Law Enforcement. Deputy Jonathan Hawley received the Joshua E. Blyler Award and Corrections Deputy Russell Burns Jr. received the Chris Dale Award for excelling in their new positions.
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Corporal Debra Smith was recognized as the “Telecommunicator of the Year”, Lieutenant Kyle Cubbedge was recognized as the “Explorer of the Year” and Ann Terry received the “Volunteer of the Year Award”.
Sheriff Shoar recognized Sheila Greenleaf and Sandy Williams for 35 years of service.
Colonels Frank Cyr, Susan Donlon and Art May, Captain Connie Reams, Lieutenant Robin Reems, Sergeant Randy Capo and Susan Biesiada were cited for 30 years of service.
20-Year Service Awards were presented to Lieutenant Chris Acosta and Sergeants Fran Anderson, Kim Bucher, Brad Delaere and David Tarbert. Deputies John Brush, Robert Hancock, John Newsome, Michael Saunders, Stephen Smith, and Edward “Bo” Strange along with Raye Brutnell and MaryAnn Tatem.
An “Exceptional Service Award” is given to a deputy who rendered service involving exceptional courage and grave personal danger in saving or attempting to save a life, or in resolving safely an immediate life-threatening situation. This year’s recipients were Corporals Michael Hartsell and Jeremy Bouchard; Detectives Frank Ferris III, and Russ Martin; and Deputies Ricky Domingo, Jonathan Hawley, Earl Edenfield, III, Francis McElroy, Bryan Seay, Ronnie Lester and Christina Dobbs.
A “Lifesaving Award” is given to an employee who rendered aid in saving a life. This year’s recipients were Sergeants Mike Strausbaugh and Mark Ochkie; Corporal Paul Clark; and Deputies Joseph Lukaszewski, Dale Pittenger, Gaetano Iuso, Richard Michaux, Jeremy Banks, Thomas Coward, Christopher Davis, Nick Swan and John Collins.
Recognized for diligence, unusual thoroughness and perseverance were Sergeant Mark Ochkie; Corporal Debra Smith, Detectives Charles Brantley and George Harrigan, Jr.; Deputies Nick Swan, Matt Bellamy, Chris Alexander and Christina Dobbs along with Shivaunn Crowley who each performed difficult tasks in which the aims of law enforcement were furthered, earning them a “Meritorious Service Award”.
The Sheriff’s Unit Award is presented to a unit, section or team that has performed their duties in an excellent manner throughout the year. This year the Honor Guard received the award. Those accepting the award were Lieutenant Ben Tanner, Sergeant Jay Lawing, Corporal Terrie Becker, and Deputies Ricky Domingo, Christina Dobbs, Jeanine Judge, Quentin Beckton, Robert Fagan, Joeffrey Alvarez, Pedro DeLeon, Justin Anderson, and Richard Smith.
The “Sheriff’s Commendation Award” is given to an employee whose conduct and actions reflect highly and favorably on the individual and the Sheriff’s Office. Those receiving the Sheriff’s Commendation Award were: Corporals Greg Suchy and James Priester; Deputies Gerald Thompson and Michael Soles and Shantel Weems.
Those individuals that received a “Division Director’s Award” were Corporal Ed Martinez; Deputy Ricardo Rios; along with Jean Masters, Edward Orzechowski and Melissa Farris.
Finally, Sheriff Shoar awarded two individuals the “Sheriff’s Award of Excellence”, which is given to individuals who have maintained an excellent level of service and represented the Agency in a positive manner in their current assignment during the previous year. Those receiving the award were Rick Ferraro, II and Robert Hardwick.
Photo credits: © 2011 Historic City News staff photographer