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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 15, 2018

Five Iowans given Award of Valor

Honored for heroic action to save lives
By Rod Boshart, Gazette Des Moines Bureau | Nov 21, 2017
Photo by: Photo by Rod Boshart From left, Marion Firefighters Peter Lammer, Jeremy Smith, Zachary Bruce and Jeff Hoover are congratulated by Gov. Kim Reynolds at the end of a Statehouse ceremony Monday where the four were presented with the 2017 Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor. The honor goes to peace officers and firefighters who -- while serving in an official capacity -- distinguish themselves i n the past year by the performance of an heroic act in excess of normal demands of police or fire service where the person was fully aware of the threat to his/her personal safety.

DES MOINES — Four firefighters from Marion and an Iowa state trooper were presented the annual Sullivan Brothers’ Award of Valor Ceremony on Monday for their heroic efforts in saving the lives of Iowans during critical times of need.

Firefighters Jeff Hoover, Peter Lammer, Jeremy Smith and Zachary Bruce of the Marion Fire Department were presented their 2017 awards by Gov. Kim Reynolds and Roxann Ryan, commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety. Iowa State Trooper Dustin Henningsen also was honored at the Capitol ceremony.

“It’s very seldom that firefighters and police officers get the recognition that they so deserve and the effort they put into the rescue was phenomenal,” said Marion Fire Chief Deb Krebill, who nominated the four-some for the award named for the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo who died together in World War II when their ship was sunk.

The Marion firefighters were recognized for their swift action on Dec. 8, 2016, to extricate a driver involved in a “semi roll-over” accident along Highway 151. The driver, Kostyantyn Knysh, 38, of Plainfield, Ill., was trapped in the vehicle cab and was almost completely submerged under nearly frozen water in 15-degree weather after the trailer truck went off the road and into a pond near Jordan’s Grove Road.

“There is no doubt that these firefighters put their lives on the line that day,” Ryan told about 50 people who gathered in the Capitol rotunda to give the men a standing ovation. “Their combined effort, determination, skill and willingness to not give up saved a man’s life.”

According to a news release from the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, at 10:51 a.m. Thursday officers responded to the report of a semi that had slid off the road into a pond near Dubuque Road just east of Jordan’s Grove Road.

Deputies closed Highway 151 eastbound between Highway 13 and Stone Road. Traffic was then rerouted to Highway 13 North to County Home Road.

Upon arrival, police say that they found the semi off the road submerged under water in the pond. Emergency responders removed Knysh through the roof of the truck, police said.

Krebill said it took the firefighters nearly an hour to rescue the driver in the frigid conditions.

“A lot of guys, once they were in there that long and they were absolutely exhausted, they would have gotten out and said: ‘O.K., next crew go in,’ but they didn’t. They were going to stay there until it was done,” Krebill told reporters. “They were freezing. They were exhausted and they did not give up and, as a fire chief, I could not be more proud.”

Iowa State Patrol Trooper Dustin Henningsen was honored for rescuing a man trapped in a burning vehicle in a roadside ditch in the Bettendorf area last February.

“What you’ve accomplished is truly exceptional,” Reynolds told the five award recipients. “They were heroes in every sense of the word. Thank you for being a phenomenal example for all others to follow.”

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