Although the men and women who work as firefighters, police officers, or emergency medical technicians generally do so without fanfare, those who have shown exceptional dedication to duty were honored at the April 30 annual 200 Club of Hudson County Valor Awards luncheon at Liberty House in Jersey City.
“It’s fitting and really not surprising the 200 Club of Hudson County will present the largest number of awards it has ever given for heroism at its 30th anniversary luncheon because 2013 was such a busy year for public safety”, said Valor Committee Chair Joan Quigley.
Honors went to 26 police officers, 11 firefighters, 10 FBI special agents, and four high-ranking members of the New Jersey State Police.
Mickey McCabe, owner of McCabe Ambulance and a founding member of the 200 Club of Hudson County said these people put their lives on the line daily.
The club was established in 1984 and is one of 14 clubs statewide which acknowledge the achievements of law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians for heroic acts that go beyond the call of duty. A small group of business leaders in Hudson County came together in 1984 to talk about public safety in their communities and resolved to do something to raise public awareness about the dangers faced by first responders.
The annual awards program was launched that spring and later the organization added scholarship awards to their yearly schedule.
“It’s fitting and really not surprising the 200 Club of Hudson County will present the largest number of awards it has ever given for heroism at its 30th anniversary luncheon.” – Joan Quigley
“We give thousands with no strings attached,” McCabe said. “These deaths are always unexpected, and they pose a significant burden on the families. “
McCabe said that the 200 Club takes nominations from a number of sources and then these are evaluated by a Valor Award Committee.
“They look at each and choose which ones to award,” he said. “It is very competitive.”
Members of the committee solicited nominations from police, fire, and EMS administrators, as well as union leaders, throughout the county and viewed official reports on actions taken by officers during the nominated events. Nominees for valor awards must have faced extreme personal danger and acted without regard for their personal safety to protect others.
Daniel Becht, president of the 200 Club of Hudson County, said that U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman was to be the guest speaker.
Club members presented scholarships to several high school seniors who have at least one parent working in public safety in Hudson County. Scholarship Chair Joseph Gianella said the Hudson County Police Chiefs Association, the Jersey City Fire Foundation and the Jersey Fraternal Order of Police also present scholarships to winners of their contests at this luncheon.
McCabe, luncheon chair, said the club had not invited guest speakers in recent years in order to keep the luncheon as brief as possible out of respect for attendees who “need to get back to work.” However, he said the occasion of a 30th anniversary demanded something special, and the organization is flattered that the U.S. attorney accepted their invitation.
Fishman was nominated by President Barack Obama as the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey in June, 2009.
200 Club Valor Awards
Jersey City Police Officers Michael Galano and Trident Villanueva were honored for capturing an armed man who ran through a residential neighborhood after threatening a woman in her apartment.
Bayonne Police Sergeant Timothy McAuliffe and Officer Michael Elia were recognized for compassionately disarming an emotionally disturbed man with a knife.
Awards were given to Jersey City Fire Captains Robert A. Jaeger and John E. Yanick for heroic actions during a fire in Harrison that resulted in a backdraft, injuring several firefighters.
Kearny Firefighters Michael Janeckzo and Andrew O’Donnell were honored for rescuing two fallen comrades during a house fire.
Valiant Teamwork Awards
North Bergen Police Lt. Timothy Faranda, Sgt. Alex Guzman, Detective Michael Derin, and Police Officers Daniel Brown, Ramon DeJesus, and Saray Durango were honored for capturing two bank robbers, one of whom was armed and had carjacked a vehicle and crashed it into a house.
North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue Captains Eduardo Diaz and Leo Calvo, Firefighters Frank Baker, Desmond Boyle, Kevin Cowan, Richard DeSimone, and Markus Rehfeld received recognition for rescuing an unconscious toddler and his mother during an apartment building fire.
Port Authority Lieutenant Robert Lipari, Sergeants Michael Church and James Cosmano, Officers Stephen Eichner, John Epperlein, Emanuel Luongo, and Charles Zerega were to receive an award for capturing a knife-wielding man running amok through commuter traffic at the Weehawken entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Weehawken Police, Hudson County Sheriff Officers, and members of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force were recognized for capturing a man wanted for multiple murders in California. This includes Weehawken Lieutenant Ignazio Mitolo, Sergeant Justin Rollings, Detective Thomas Glackin, Police Officers Vincent Avoletta and Maz Guevarez, Sheriff’s Detective John Luzzi and Officer Kenneth Drago, FBI Special Agents Mark Corrice, Ajit David, Avgoustis Karminas, Sean Lynch, Douglas Man, Brian McCaffery, and Task Force Officers Javier Acevedo, James George, Victor Manata, and Chris Smith.
Also given special recognition were New Jersey State Police Lt. Col. Edward Cetnar, Majors Kevin Fowler and Robert Yaiser, and Captain Mark Mangan, for coordinating security for the Super Bowl.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.