“The men and women we are honoring today help us set the conditions for businesses to succeed by making our communities safer. We cannot thank you enough for what you do every day,” said Bryan K. Stephens, President & CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
The Hampton Roads Chamber Valor Awards, which offers the Hampton Roads business community an opportunity to thank and recognize public safety heroes for extraordinary acts of courage and resourcefulness in the line of duty were held on June 7, 2018. The Valor awards presenting sponsor was Chesapeake Regional Health Care. These awards honored first responders in the categories of Valor, Lifesaving and Investigative Merit. In its sixth year, the 2018 ceremony included a special Distinguished Valor award and the first-ever Community Heroes award.
The honorees and their families attended and WTKR News3 partnered with the Hampton Roads Chamber this year to create videos telling the stories of the brave men and women who received recognition during the award ceremony.
Held at the Renaissance Portsmouth Waterfront Hotel, the event was especially poignant to Portsmouth as Portsmouth Police Officer Angelina Baaklini was presented with the Distinguished Valor Award. She is alive today because she showed incredible strength, courage and bravery when a 15 year old runaway shot her on November 6th. Two of the officers honored with lifesaving awards were presented to Portsmouth Detective Robert Dyer and Portsmouth Detective Stanley Alexander who were first on scene when Officer Baaklini was shot and are credited with saving her life. “We know when we sign up, when we take that oath of honor, it is to serve and protect the community. We will go above that and beyond the call of duty. That’s what she was doing that day she was performing her duties, serving the citizens of Portsmouth,” said Portsmouth Police Chief, Tonya Chapman.
The Community Heroes Award, sponsored by Chartway Federal Credit Union, is presented to the public safety official or team who go above and beyond the call of duty to positively impact the community. This can involve outreach programs, youth programs, at-risk adult programs, or any coordinated effort that helps improve the quality of life for residents. The Community Heroes Award was presented to the Portsmouth Police Department Community Enhancement Division. This Division ran a summer camp in 2017 that helped 62 children find out that their police officers are their community heroes. “I like the kids, I like the interaction with youth, I like the fact that it allows us to bridge the gap so they understand that there are officers they can trust and we are people they can come to,” said Portsmouth Police Officer Allen Washington.
The Lifesaving Award, sponsored by The Auto Connection, is awarded to a public safety official or unit in recognition of acts taken in a life-threatening situation where an individual’s life is in jeopardy, either medically or physically. This award may also be given for very complex rescues. The following individuals were awarded Lifesaving Awards:
Captain William E. Sigafoos - Norfolk Fire-Rescue
Lieutenant Keith Bailey - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Gary Baker - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Heather Rinus - Chesapeake Police Department
Detective Stanley Alexander – Portsmouth Police Department
Detective Robert Dyer – Portsmouth Police Department
The Valor Award, sponsored by Sentara Healthcare, is the highest award in recognition of an act involving extreme personal risk which is clearly above and beyond the call of duty. This is awarded in situations when a public safety official/unit knowingly exposes himself/herself/themselves to great personal risk in the performance of an official act. The following individuals were presented Valor Awards:
Distinguished Valor Award:
Officer Angelina Baaklini – Portsmouth Police Department
Gold Valor Award:
Sergeant Michael Bean – Chesapeake Police Department
Sergeant James Garrett - Chesapeake Police Department
Sergeant David Dashiell - Chesapeake Police Department
Sergeant Michael Sparrow - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Jenna Bayer - Chesapeake Police Department
Office Callie Kessler - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Kristin Severino - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Keith Hill - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Russell Keene - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Brent Lee - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Russell Sawatzke - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Kevin Walton - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Larry Holmes - Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Natrel Lewis - Chesapeake Police Department
Lieutenant Ryan McFadden – Chesapeake Fire Department
FF/EMT Tim Caruso - Chesapeake Fire Department
FF/EMT Barry Olsen - Chesapeake Fire Department
FF/EMT Jason Parsons - Chesapeake Fire Department
FF/EMT Chris Richardson - Chesapeake Fire Department
FF/EMT Adam Russell - Chesapeake Fire Department
The Gold Valor award’s 20 recipients were first responders from Chesapeake Fire and Police departments, who worked together to save 150 lives of senior citizens after a lightning strike set fire to their residence community.
Silver Valor Award:
Officer John Hlebinsky – Virginia Beach Police Department
Patrol Officer Norman Teague – Virginia Beach Police Department
Captain Matthew Cooley – Virginia Beach Fire Department
Master Firefighter Shawn Sass - Virginia Beach Fire Department
Master Firefighter Neil Williams - Virginia Beach Fire Department
Firefighter Joseph Costlow - Virginia Beach Fire Department
Firefighter Bradley Pugh - Virginia Beach Fire Department
Bronze Valor Award:
Senior Firefighter Steve T. Jurnigan II – Suffolk Fire & Rescue
The Investigative Merit award, is awarded to the public safety official or unit for their integrity in investigative work. This includes, but is not limited to, solving a cold case, clearing a difficult active case or the outstanding overall supervision of a particularly unusual case that is brought to a successful conclusion. The following individuals were presented Investigative Merit awards:
Supervisory Inspector Marty Stidham – US Marshals Office
Investigator Brad Kirby – Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office
Lieutenant Josh Sawyer – Chesapeake Sheriff’s Office
Sergeant Albert “Jason” Armstrong – Norfolk Police Department
Investigator Michael J. Mezo – Norfolk Police Department
Investigator Lance Roberson – Norfolk Police Department
Deputy USMS Patrick Yetzer – US Marshals Office
Investigator Chuck Hollowood – Portsmouth Police Department
Detective Jeremiah Rogers – Norfolk Police Department
Detective Rachelann Cain – Suffolk Police Department
The Hampton Roads Chamber is honored to recognize the amazing men and women of our regional first responder teams with the Valor Awards. As an impactful advocate for our region, we continue to show our gratitude to our local first responders on behalf of the business community. The Hampton Roads Chamber wants to thank these men and women who put themselves in harm's way each and every day.
WTKR News3 partnered with the Chamber this year to bring the stories of some of our honorees to life. You can view several of the videos on our YouTube channel here.
Thank you to our Valor Awards selection committee: Chesapeake Police Lieutenant John Landfair, Norfolk Fire-Rescue Captain Damon Langley, Portsmouth Police Lieutenant Todd Thursby, Suffolk Police Major Clyde Patterson, Virginia Beach Fire Chief Daryl Funaiock
Thank you to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare; Host Sponsor, Renaissance Portsmouth-Norfolk Waterfront Hotel; Media Sponsor, WTKR News3; Valor Award Sponsor, Sentara Healthcare; Lifesaving Award Sponsor, The Auto Connection; Community Heroes Award Sponsor, Chartway Federal Credit Union; A/V Sponsor, Productive A/V; Decor Sponsor, Premier Events.