Medal of Valor
Recognition by the department for an act
or series of acts of bravery or valor in the
face of extreme personal danger in the
performance of duty.
The Medal of Valor has only been awarded twice since it was incorporated into policy in 1999.
July 2, 1993--At approximately 3:44 a.m., Officer Erwin Marticiuc and Sergeant William Wasoba were dispatched to a house fire at 1917 York Street. The caller had stated that there was a fire in the residence, and she was unable to get her invalid mother out of the home. On arrival, Officer Marticiuc and Sergeant Wasoba entered the wood-frame, single-story dwelling, which was completely filled with smoke. The two of them cooperated by picking up the elderly woman who was unable to get out of bed. They carried her out of the burning building and ensured that she was treated by paramedics.
The woman received no injuries, but both officers were treated for smoke inhalation. Their actions were above and beyond the call of duty and were directly responsible for saving the life of a Gulfport resident.
Following this brave act, Officer Marticiuc and Sergeant Wasoba received a commendation, which was at the time the only form of recognition for police conduct. Several years later, after Officer Marticiuc had left his employment with the Gulfport Police Department, Chief G. Curt Willocks ordered the review of previous commendations to determine if they were eligible for newly-enacted awards. An awards committee agreed that this act warranted increased recognition, and On March 22, 2002, Chief Willocks presented Officer Wasoba with the Medal of Valor.
May 29, 2000--At approximately 7:12 p.m., Officer Michael Torres responded to a call from a citizen indicating that a woman was having trouble staying on the surface while swimming off shore in Boca Ciega Bay. When he saw the woman, Officer Torres noted that she was near a boat, but that she appeared too weak to pull herself out of the water. He saw her head go under the water at least twice.
After notifying a supervisor and requesting assistance from a marine officer, Torres made a brave decision. In his judgment, the woman was not likely to remain afloat long enough for outside assistance, so he decided to swim out to her himself. He first secured himself on the nearby boat, and then he stabilized the victim by guiding her to an anchor rope which she could hold on to. Officer Torres then stayed with the woman, reassuring her until a St. Pete Beach marine patrol unit arrived to complete the rescue.
Considering the extreme exhaustion and panic level of the victim in this case, it is very likely that she would not have survived if Officer Torres had not acted as swiftly as he did. Further, he faced the risk of drowning himself after having to swim more than 100 yards to a panicked victim without any form of rescue equipment.
Officer Torres was presented the Medal of Valor by Gulfport Mayor Michael Yakes at a public council meeting in June, 2000.
Gulfport Police Department
A Full- Service, Accredited Law Enforcement Agency
Pinellas County, Florida