“We are here today to honor men and women who serve our communities in public safety who have performed acts of exceptional merit, distinguished service, remarkable bravery, and uncommon valor. Valor is defined as great courage in the face of danger. It is only a rare few individuals who have the courage to run towards danger instead of away from it. We are here today to honor and thank them for their service and heroism.” said Hampton Roads Chamber President and CEO, Bryan K. Stephens. The 2019 Valor Awards Ceremony was held on Wednesday, June 26 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center welcoming first responder honorees and their families.
The Valor Awards serve as a pivotal opportunity for the Hampton Roads business community to come together in thanks and recognition of Police, Fire, and EMS departments who have selflessly chosen one of the most challenging and dangerous careers. Through their daily dispatches and responsibilities, these individuals go above and beyond the call of duty every day to save lives even if it means putting their own lives on the line.
The Hampton Roads Chamber, in partnership with Media Sponsor, WKTR News3, composed video components for the occurrences adding striking insight to each situation and highlighting the qualities it takes to have a career as first responder.
In light of the tragedy on May 31st at the Virginia Beach Municipal Center, a moment of silence was observed for the victims and a short video tribute was shown for the first responders featuring Virginia Beach Police Chief, Jim Cervera. Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer said, “True heroes live among us in our community 24/7. We live in a region of heroes. We will never forget the loss of lives and people injured on May 31st. I say thank you for what you have done and what you will continue to do to make our city and region safe.”
The Community Heroes Award was presented to members of the Norfolk Police Department Cops & Curls Committee for going above and beyond the call of duty to positively impact the community. The committee hosted its 3rd annual Cops & Curls event in April 2018. The event is designed as an evening of community interaction for over 200 underserved, school-aged girls to positively impact their confidence and self-esteem. Filled with dancing, STEM learning activities, and most importantly, the relationships built between the girls and police officers. The award honorees are:
Captain Michele Naughton
Sergeant Phillip Dixon
Karen P. Chesson
A Lifesaving Award was presented to the Virginia Beach Police Department in response to a stabbing incident involving a female in April. Although the direct threat of danger from the suspect still remained, three officers were able to work together to provide medical aid to the victim and eventually take the suspect into custody. The award honorees are:
Officer Mitchell Mengel
Officer Evan Mabry
Master Police Officer Sean Garvin
Members of the Chesapeake Police Department received a Lifesaving Award for the outstanding efforts displayed by two officers in November when responding to an alarming call of a car quickly sinking in a retention pond bordering Greenbrier Parkway with the driver still inside. Without hesitation, both officers entered the water and pushed the car and driver to safety.
The award honorees are:
Officer Donovan Moorman
Officer Garland Kyle Bailey
Firefighter/EMT William C. Maddox Jr. of the Chesapeake Fire Department was also a recipient of the Lifesaving Award. During a dispatch to a house fire in July, one officer risked his own life and safety to enter the burning building and save an unresponsive infant from the smoke-filled house. Due to truly swift and heroic actions from this officer, the child received instant medical care and survived.
An Investigative Merit Award was presented to Portsmouth Police Department: Homicide Unit. Since August 2018, a select group of detectives were able to use unwavering compassion and support in an effort to demonstrate to the community their willingness and commitment to solve 20 homicide cases simultaneously. By going out of their way to connect with the families of the victims, an unexpected trust was formed between the detectives and community. From this newly formed and resilient relationship, the Portsmouth Police Department saw an unprecedented increase in their Clearance Rating of 30% to 75%. The award honorees are:
Detective Johnta Thomas
Detective John Humphries
Detective William Baker
Detective Stanley Alexander
Norfolk Police Department: Robbery Squad received an Investigative Merit Award for tirelessly solving a robbery case involving Wells Fargo Bank in August. From their high-level of teamwork and competency, the detectives were able to, quite literally, piece together the crime by sweeping the scene discovering discarded clothing from the suspect which contained a house key. The detectives were led to the suspect’s home and were able to take the suspect into custody, preventing further robberies in the area. The suspect confessed to four other related robberies. The award honorees are:
Corporal Paul Fedorko
Seregeant Walter Whiteside
Detective Tammy Mendoza
Detective Jose Oyola
Detective Christopher Allen
Detective Aaron Cyderman
Detective Christopher Rocchio
Detective Alexander Kay
Detective Mark Lowery
The Norfolk Police Department: Narcotics Division also received an Investigative Merit Award for their efforts behind Operation Thunderstruck from July to October. This operation was particularly high-risk for the officers and investigators involved and required extensive training before going undercover. During the operation, the officers connected many of the suspects to related narcotics distribution. Operation Thunderstruck produced indictments on 56 individuals totaling 155 felony charges making the streets of Norfolk safer. The award honorees are:
Officer Kavoris Fruster
Officer Victoria Fenley
Investigator Brock Martin
Investigator Sal Castruita
Officer Corey Hubbard of the Suffolk Police Department received the Valor Award for his heroic efforts while responding to a shooting in December. Upon arrival to the scene, the officer realized the present danger when the victim and suspect were both struggling for control of the weapon with hysterical family members right next to them. Single handedly, this officer was able to subdue the suspect, retrieve the weapon safely, give the victim medical attention, and preserve the crime scene before any other officers could arrive on scene.
Four officers with the Virginia Beach Police Department received a Valor Award for displaying incomparable thoroughness in the face of immediate danger during a robbery pursuit in October. Between September 20 and October 7, eleven 7-11 stores were robbed by armed suspects. Officers of the Virginia Beach Police Department made sure to be ready in the event of another robbery in the area. The armed suspects opened fire towards the officers, one bullet perforating one of the officer’s pant legs, thankfully causing no major damage. After enlisting the assistance of Canine Officers, the suspects were found and taken into custody.
The award honorees are:
Officer Jacob Bott
Officer Edward Ryan
Canine Officer Daniel Herring
Canine Officer Wayne Lincoln
Firefighter Mitchell E. Riley from the Virginia Beach Fire Department received a Valor Award for responding to a house fire involving two children trapped inside last December. Upon arrival to the fire, he immediately entered the burning structure and began searching for the children. After locating the first child and passing him through a window to responding team members, he reentered the structure to find the other child. Despite dense black smoke filling the home, he located the second child. Just before the structure flashed over, he passes the child off to the team and dove out of the window to safety.
His efforts did not stop there. He proceeded to drive one of the ambulances carrying the children to the hospital where they received the medical care they needed. This call demanded hard work and hustle, which this firefighter displayed throughout the entirety of the call.
The two children he saved and their family went to visit the fire station to thank Firefighter Mitchell first hand for his truly heroic and lifesaving efforts.
Thank you to our Sponsors: Presenting Sponsor: Chesapeake Regional Healthcare; Media Sponsor: WTKR News3; Lifesaving Award Sponsor: The Auto Connection; Valor Award Sponsor: Sentara; Virginia Beach Award Sponsor: Beach Municipal Federal Credit Union; Silver Sponsors: Old Dominion University Cyber Security, The Smile Group, Verizon; Investigative Merit Sponsor: Wells Fargo; Bronze Sponsor: Richmond Alarm Company; Décor Sponsor: Premier Events; Print Sponsor: Copy Connection; AV Sponsor: ProductiveAV.
The Hampton Roads Chamber means business and works as a powerful economic partner, inspiring ignitor, impactful advocate, and regional brand collaborator for our diverse and inclusive business community.