51 Honored for Uncommon Valor

Officer Paul A. Meler, at left, receives a Silver Medal of Valor from Fairfax County Police Chief David M. Rohrer. At right, Officer Lance T. Guckenberger, who also was recognized with a Silver Medal, receives congratulations from Sheriff Stan G. Barry, along with Rohrer and Fire Chief Michael P. Neuhard.
Officer Paul A. Meler, at left, receives a Silver Medal of Valor from Fairfax County Police Chief David M. Rohrer. At right, Officer Lance T. Guckenberger, who also was recognized with a Silver Medal, receives congratulations from Sheriff Stan G. Barry, along with Rohrer and Fire Chief Michael P. Neuhard. (Photos By Warren Mattox)

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Fifty-one people in uniform in Fairfax County, along with a police dog, were honored for bravery at the 28th annual Valor Awards luncheon last week.

The awards, sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, were for actions that included pulling trapped drivers from vehicles, getting in the line of fire to save someone, and rescuing residents from burning homes and a child from a creek.

Those honored were members of Fairfax County's Fire and Rescue Department, Police Department and Sheriff's Office.

They were nominated by their departments and then selected by a committee that included members of the police, fire department and Sheriff's Office and representatives of the business community. The actions honored generally occurred in Fairfax County in 2005, although some actions outside the calendar year or outside the county can be considered at the discretion of the selection committee's chairman.

The Silver Medal of Valor, the highest award, goes to someone who committed acts involving great personal risk, above and beyond the call of duty.

The Bronze Medal of Valor goes to a person who acts at unusual personal risk beyond the call of duty or to someone who demonstrates unusual judgment, zeal or ingenuity during an emergency situation.

The Certificate of Valor honors an act involving personal risk or that demonstrated judgment, zeal or ingenuity not normally expected.

The Lifesaving Award recognizes those who act in a life-threatening situation.

Officer Lance T. Guckenberger was one of three police officers who received the Silver Medal.

In January 2005, Guckenberger was responding to a holdup alarm at a check-cashing business when the clerk yelled a warning about a man with a gun. She then ran toward him.

Guckenberger shielded the clerk with his body and retreated to his cruiser. The suspect came through the door and opened fire. Guckenberger shot back, and after an exchange of fire, with the officer shielding the clerk, the suspect ran.

Guckenberger ordered him to stop, and the man turned and aimed at the officer. Guckenberger shot him in the leg and the man fell.


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