Monday, May 11, 2015

Big South Fork Park Rangers Receive Valor Awards

From evacuating federal workers being stalked by a mass murderer to rescuing injured mountain climbers, 15 National Park Service employees were feted last week at the 70th Honor Awards Convocation in Washington, D.C.

“On any given day, National Park Service employees set the standard for superior public service. From the maintenance workers to park rangers, we are forever grateful to these individuals for their bravery in the face of incredible danger; even death,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

Secretary Jewell also recognized Michael Hogrefe and Solomon Teneyck with the Citizens Award for Bravery. When Mr. Hogrefe saw a father and daughter get swept down-river while swimming in the National Buffalo River in Arkansas, he selflessly came to their aid and saved the life of the child.

Park Rangers Thomas A. Hall, Matthew L. Hudson, and Brett F. Painter from Big South Fork National River were also given Valor Awards. Using only headlamps and moonlight, the three rangers paddled through treacherous and bone-chilling rapids to rescue a man who was stranded.

The incident started around midnight on May 11, 2014. Rangers Hudson, Hall and Painter paddled a hazardous and challenging whitewater section of the Big South Fork River to rescue a 21-year-old male stranded mid-river without a life jacket. By headlamp and moonlight, the three rangers negotiated numerous Class II and III rapids and then plucked the victim from a small rock on the brink of a potentially lethal Class IV rapid known as Double Falls. Without the efforts of Hudson, Painter, and Hall, there was a significant likelihood that the victim would have either succumbed to hypothermia or attempted to swim from the rock. In either case, he would have been washed downstream through all three Class IV rapids in succession, with only a small chance of surviving such a swim.

To see the full list of the Valor Award winners, please click here.

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