Remarks on Presenting the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor
The President. Thank you, Bill. Thank you very much, Mr. Attorney General. That's great. Appreciate it.
I welcome everyone to the White House—a very special place—as we award our very bravest law enforcement officers and firefighters our Nation's highest public safety award: the Medal of Valor. Congratulations. It's a great award.
Also joining us for the ceremony is Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen. Jeff. And congratulations. Along with a friend of mine—great Senator—Rob Portman. Rob, thank you. And Representative—and one of the best hockey players you'll ever see—Pete Stauber. Pete, thank you very much.
To the heroes we honor today: This afternoon we express the gratitude and pride of our nation for your immortal acts of courage. To the families who join us: You carry a great burden so that our citizens can live in safety and in peace. We cherish and thank each and every one of you.
Here with us today is Trooper Nicholas Cederberg from Oregon State Police. Where is Nicholas? Good. That's what I thought. [Laughter] On Christmas night of 2016, Nic was with his family when he got a call that a man in the nearby neighborhood of King City had shot and killed a woman and was now speeding through the city streets very dangerously. Nic raced to find him and soon located the murderer and chased him into a dead-end road. The suspect made a U-turn, rammed right into Nic's car and then immediately opened fire.
Nic thought he had it, but he didn't, because Nic was shot in the hip—very badly injured. He laid on the ground. Amid a barrage of gunfire, he kept firing back, preventing the shooter from escaping until other officers arrived.
That Christmas night, Nic took 12 bullets. After a very tough recovery, Nic survived. And, Trooper Cederberg, we are very honored to have you with us in the White House. Thank you very much. Great job. He looks awfully good. Twelve bullets. He looks good if he took no bullets, you know? [Laughter] Some pretty good doctors, I guess. Right?
Oregon State Police senior trooper Nicholas Cederberg. Very good doctors.
The President. Great job.
Also with us today is Officer Alan Horujko of the Ohio State University Police. On November 28, 2016, an ISIS-inspired terrorist sped into a crowd of students at Ohio State. I remember that. He then got out of his car and chased them with a knife.
Alan ran to the scene and yelled at the man to drop his knife. The man charged toward Alan after doing a lot of damage to others, but Alan shot him and killed him immediately. Thanks to Alan's swift action, not a single innocent person that day died. Some very badly injured people, however. Officer Horujko, we are forever grateful. Thank you very much. Thank you. Great.
This afternoon we also honor two incredible firefighters: Captain Dustin Moore and Firefighter Andrew Freisner of the Lenexa Fire Department in Kansas. In April of 2016, Dustin and Andrew responded to an apartment fire, where they learned that a family was trapped on the second floor. It was looking very bad.
Dustin and Andrew climbed up a ladder to the balcony of the apartment and raced into a blinding hail of smoke and deadly heat. They found a woman who was unconscious and two small children and carried them all to safety. Captain Moore and Firefighter Freisner, you made a tremendous difference and you make all Americans proud. It's a great job. Thank you very much. Great job. You saved those lives.
Today we also recognize eight law enforcement officers from Azusa, California: Tommy Avila, Manuel Campos, Seth Chapman, Carlos Plascencia—I didn't get that great, Carlos, but not bad. [Laughter] Where's Carlos? Come—I owe you one. [Laughter] Andrew Rodriguez, Terry Smith, Xavier Torres, and Rocky Wenrick. Thank you, fellas, that's fantastic. Fantastic.
These officers responded to a call of a crazed man firing at citizens near a voting site on November 8, 2016. When they arrived, Carlos and Xavier raced through a hail of bullets to save a woman who had been shot in the head. At the same time, Terry, Andrew, and Seth returned fire. Tommy, Rocky, and Manuel drew the gunman out of his house, enabling their fellow officers to shoot him and bring the rampage to an end. Very dangerous situation.
To each of you: You represent the unity, devotion, teamwork, and swift action that makes America's law enforcement the best and bravest anywhere in the world. Well done. And I want to thank you all for being here. Thank you very much. Thank you.
And earlier today, at a private ceremony, I was profoundly honored to present the Medal of Valor to the families of two fallen officers who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty: Sergeant Verdell Smith and Officer Brent Thompson.
Sergeant Smith was a member of the Memphis Police Department. In June 2016, a gunman was speeding toward a busy intersection downtown. As Sergeant Smith cleared the street, the attacker struck and fatally injured Sergeant Smith.
I want to just thank Sergeant Smith's family. Where are you? We just left—where are you, Sergeant Smith's family? Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.
On July 7, 2016, Dallas Police Officer Brent Thompson was on duty during a large protest against law enforcement that soon turned violent when a gunman opened fire on the police. Brent charged across the three-lane road and fired on the shooter. Brent was killed instantly in the firefight, but his act of courage saved many lives. Many, many lives.
An attack on our police is an attack upon our entire Nation. Through their sacrifice, Sergeant Smith and Officer Thompson defeated evil men with the goodness and bravery of true American heroes. We are eternally grateful, in their debt. Thank you very much. It's really great.
Every officer, firefighter, and first responder who receives this award embodies the highest ideals of service and sacrifice, character and courage, love and loyalty. Your lives of patriotism, your devotion to duty, and your deeds of valor lift up our entire Nation.
Today and every day, we thank God that you were there when our communities needed you the most. And we want to thank you all. And God bless you, God bless law enforcement, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you. Great.
So now I'd like to ask the Military Aide to come forward and read the citations as I present these incredible and very brave recipients with the Medal of Valor. Thank you. [At this point, Lt. Col. Michael E. Ziegelhofer, Army Aide to the President, read the citations, and the President presented the medals, assisted by Cmdr. Jeffrey C. Fassbender, Navy Aide to the President.]
The President. These are tremendous people. I want to just congratulate everybody. It's an amazing honor to have you in the White House. Say hello to your families, and thank you all for being here. Thank you very much. Congratulations.
Thank you, everybody. Thank you.
NOTE: The President spoke at 3:25 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Attorney General William P. Barr, who introduced the President; and Justin Welch, who was charged in the June 4, 2016, murder of Memphis, TN, Police Department Sgt. Verdell Smith, Sr. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the reading of the citations.
Donald J. Trump, Remarks on Presenting the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/333570