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Grand Teton Park Rangers Honored For Heroism

Seven Grand Teton National Park rangers were honored with the Department of Interior’s prestigious Valor Award by Secretary Ken Salazar Wednesday. The recognition came in honor of their heroic actions during the July 2010 search and rescue of 17 climbers caught in a powerful lightning storm in the park in July 2010.

In addition, one of the park’s co-medical directors, the primary helicopter pilot, one Teton Interagency helitack member, and three Exum Mountain Guides were presented with the Department’s Citizen’s Award for Bravery during the same rescue.

Salazar noted that many lives were saved by the professionalism, skill and courage of the combined rescuers. One climber died when he fell more than two thousand feet during the brunt of the storm.

Valor Award recipients are Park Rangers Ryan Schuster, Jack McConnell, Marty Vidak, Ed Visnovske, Nicholas Armitage, Drew Hardesty, and Helen Bowers. St. John’s Medical Center Doctor AJ Wheeler, Pilot Matt Heart of Helicopter Express, Teton Interagency helitack member John Filardo, and Exum Mountain Guides Dan Corn, Anneka Door, and Brenton Reagan each received the Citizen’s Award for Bravery for their critical roles and assistance during the challenging rescue operation.

Valor awards are presented to DOI employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger. The act of heroism is not required to be related to official duties, or to have occurred at the official duty station. Recipients receive a special certificate and citation signed by the Secretary, and an engraved gold Valor Award medal.

The Citizen’s Award for Bravery is granted to private citizens for heroic acts or unusual bravery in the face of danger. Honorees receive a special certificate and citation signed by the Secretary for risking their lives to save the life of a DOI employee or the life of any person while on property owned by or entrusted to the Interior Department.

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