Local Heroes Honored at Chamber's Third Annual Valor Awards

Local Heroes Honored at Chamber's Third Annual Valor Awards
More than 40 Hampton Roads police officers, firefighters and first responders honored as part of the Chambers Valor Awards

More than 40 police officers, firefighters and first responders received awards from the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce as a part of the third annual Valor Awards at the Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel on Friday, April 24.

The ceremony provided the business community with the opportunity to thank and recognize public safety heroes who risk their lives every day to keep our community safe.

Medals of Valor were presented for extraordinary acts of courage and resourcefulness in the line of duty. Vanessa Coria, Anchor/Reporter ABC13, served as the mistress of ceremonies and shared several stories of unbelievable bravery, dedication to service and love of community.

Len Santivasci, U.S. Navy Command Master Chief (Ret) and Director of Military and Community Relations at USA Living, Presenting sponsor of the Valor AwardsLen Santivasci, U.S. Navy Command Master Chief (Ret) and Director of Military and Community Relations at USA Living was the Presenting sponsor of the Valor Awards.

“The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce Valor Award ceremony truly recognizes the best of the best in our community. It was my pleasure to offer the opening remarks as my father was a police officer,” said Santivasci. He continued, “The ceremony was all about everything these men and women do for all of us every day. It was truly an honor personally and professionally to be in the same room as all of these local heroes.”

This year’s Valor Awards was particularly emotional as the Chamber honored Officer Brian W. Jones by presenting his widow Rebekah Jones with his Ultimate Sacrifice award.

The definition of valor is great courage in the face of danger. On May 30, 2014 Officer Brian Jones courageously sacrificed himself in order to protect and serve the citizens of Norfolk.  Officer Jones was shot and killed while investigating a shooting. Officer Jones not only served his community, but he served his country as a U.S. Navy Veteran. He served with the Norfolk Police Department for five years. He was assigned to the third patrol division. Officer Jones is survived by his wife, and three young children.

Coria announced to Mrs. Jones, “Please accept this humble token from the Hampton Roads business community and the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. Because of your husband’s bravery and selflessness countless lives were protected. It’s not how Officer Jones died that makes him a hero, it’s how he lived.”

Such events mirror the goals of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce, to include selfless service which the first responders embody every day. The Chamber is committed to shining a light on those among our community who work to improve the quality of life for the entire region.

Wade Powell of Dale Carnegie Training of Eastern Virginia/Wade Powell & Associates, and one of the events Silver Sponsors, was most impressed.

“It’s probably the most moving of all the events that we do because it’s recognizing people,” said Powell. “As I told my wife a while ago, this happens every day; it’s probably happening right now while we’re in here. Somebody’s out doing something like this but giving them recognition for the effort they put in, it’s a great honor. But it’s an honor for businesses to know what’s going on out there as well.”

Deputy Chief Tony Zucaro, who began his career with the Virginia Beach Police Department in 1979, was honored to be a part of this ceremony.

“I think you can tell by the stories of the heroes that were highlighted today; these are exceptional hero actions that protect the community,” said Zucaro. “These guys ran towards the problem instead of running away. They put their selves and their lives in jeopardy. I think it was outstanding that the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce has taken on this annual event and really is appreciated by the law enforcement community.”

Thanks to our sponsors: USA Living (Presenting); ABC13 (Media); Sentara Healthcare (Medal of Valor Award Sponsor); Dale Carnegie Training of Eastern Virginia/Wade Powell & Associates, GEICO, and The George Washington University, Hampton Roads Center (Silver Sponsors).

Awards were presented to the following:

Ultimate Sacrifice: (1)

  • Officer Brian Jones-Norfolk Police Department accepted by his widow Rebekah Jones

Medals of Valor:

Gold- (2)

  • Officer Toofan Shahsiah & Officer Curtis Allison-Norfolk Police Department

Silver- (4)

  • Captain Jonathan Rigolo & Master Firefighter Thomas Stone-VBFD
  • Firefighter Russell Bargy & Firefighter Todd Cox-Norfolk FD

Bronze- (6)

  • Sergeant Ryan Young, Senior Police Officer Michael Slezak, Officer Jason Saburn, Officer Jose Ramos- Ches. PD
  •  Fire Lieutenant Steven A. Henkle- Suff. FD
  • Officer George R. Whitley- Norfolk Police Department

Investigative Merit: (4)

  • Sergeant Jeff Lurie & Detective Alex Johnson- Suffolk Police Department 
  • Detective William Shockley-Suffolk Police Department
  • Investigator Melvin Grover-Norfolk Police Department

Lifesaving Award: (24) 

  • Officer Ashley Allen- Suffolk Police Department
  • Officer Shane Sukowaski & Officer Daniel Nesbitt-Suffolk Police Department
  • Officer Samantha Blake- Suffolk Police Department
  • Captain William Bailey, Master Fire Fighter Kevin Wirth, Fire Fighter Robert Doran, & Fire Fighter Paul Sigwart-VBFD
  • Master Police Officer Ryan Coon & Officer Clinton Bagwell-VBPD
  • Officer Donald Platte III & Officer Brian Measel- Norfolk Police Department
  • Officer Matthew Walsh & Officer Dreyer- Norfolk Police Department
  • Officer Sammy Jones (Portsmouth PD), Officer Kenton Givens (Norfolk Airport Police), Officer Sha’ Scales (Norfolk Airport Police) & Officer Hall (Virginia Marine Resources Police)
  • Firefighter David Johns, Firefighter Freddie Creef, Firefighter Michael Weyrauch, Firefighter Jeremy Windley-Norf FD
  • Officer Daniel Smith & Groome-Chesapeake Police Department & Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office
  • Officer Nicholas Ryan-Chesapeake Police Department
  • Sergeant Brian Person - Chesapeake Police Department and Deputy Jason Pruitt - Chesapeake Sheriff's Office
  • Virginia Beach EMS

EMS List

Edward Brazle, Division Chief
Timothy Breslin
Michael Brown
Christi Budy
Colin Cassidy
Joan Davis
Caleb Fields
Thomas Green, Division Chief
Nathan Hilton
Dennis Hodge
Brett Johnson
Tyler Kerr
Frederick Llanes
Kimberly Meinweiser
Allison Miller
Alexander Rodriguez
Moncheri Roscoe
Anthony Siciliano
Jason Stroud, Division Chief
Nicanor Tamayo
Jason Thurston
Lyndi Tripp
David Whitley
Lawrence Wines

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