SPRINGFIELD, IL - On behalf of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich, Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent presented thirteen Illinois law enforcement officers with the prestigious Law Enforcement Medal of Honor today during a ceremony at the Executive Mansion in Springfield. The annual awards ceremony recognizes "law enforcement officers who have been killed or seriously injured in the line of duty or who have displayed exceptional bravery or heroism while performing their duties as a law enforcement officer."
"These officers risk their lives each and every day to protect the citizens of Illinois," said Gov. Blagojevich. "Because of their heroic actions and bravery, they earned the prestigious Law Enforcement Medal of Honor."
"Police officers across the state are to be commended for the day-to-day efforts they make to safeguard the citizens of our state," said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. "They recognize the fact that a quiet day at work could quickly turn into a life or death situation. The officers we honor today made the choice to meet the challenge, disregarding the danger and threat to their own safety to save or protect others."
During the ceremony, officers from the Chicago Police Department, Illinois State Police, Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Orland Park Police Department, Rockford Police Department, Secretary of State, West Chicago Police Department, Willowbrook Police Department, and Yorkville Police Department were recognized as the recipients of the Medal of Honor for their heroic acts.
2004 Medal of Honor Recipients:
- Michael P. Gordon, Chicago Police Department
While on patrol with his partner on August 8, 2004, Chicago Police Officer Michael P. Gordon drove into an intersection with the green light when a speeding vehicle ran the red light, striking the vehicle. The impact caused both vehicles to spin out of control, with the occupants of both vehicles being ejected. The police vehicle subsequently came to rest with the right rear wheel on Officer Gordon's chest, trapping him under the vehicle. Officer Gordon suffered massive trauma in the crash and died as a result of his injuries. It was later determined the driver of the other vehicle, who also died of his injuries, had a blood level of .177 and was driving without a driver's license.
- Kurt C. Quick, Illinois State Police
On June 18, 2004, Illinois State Police Trooper Kurt C. Quick unknowingly had pulled over a stolen vehicle occupied by a mentally ill and suicidal subject in possession of a .45-caliber handgun. As Trooper Quick approached the vehicle, the driver shot at the officer, striking him in his right hand. After retreating for cover, Trooper Quick was able to return fire using his service pistol with his left hand. As he moved from his squad car to a nearby field, he observed the subject at the rear of his vehicle with his pistol pointed in the officer's direction. Trooper Quick again returned fire while running for cover when he observed the driver still pointing the pistol at him. Again, Trooper Quick fired at the driver who returned to his vehicle and drove away. The subject was later located dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
- Jason W. Brown, Macon County Sheriff's Department
While driving home after working a late-night shift on December 24, 2004, Macon County Sheriff's Deputy Jason W. Brown discovered a Mercury Mountaineer in a ditch. The driver was able to get out of the vehicle; however, the front passenger was trapped and appeared deceased due to massive head trauma. A second passenger was lying on top of luggage in the rear cargo area and was awake but did not seem to be aware of the accident. Deputy Brown did not attempt to move the passenger from the vehicle at that time as the vehicle was not on fire and the extent of the passenger's injuries were unknown. Soon afterward, the vehicle caught fire and the passenger regained awareness and was screaming for help. The driver and Deputy Brown pulled the passenger through a broken passenger window and free from the wreckage before the fire fully engulfed the vehicle.
- Robert J. Goudie, Orland Park Police Officer
Officer Goudie, along with fellow officers, responded to a domestic violence incident on September 4, 2004, in which a highly intoxicated subject had turned on the natural gas in a second floor condominium unit. The subject had barricaded himself inside, spilled combustible/volatile substances, and made threats to "blow up" the entire building. After a failed first forced entry through the front door, officers observed the man with some type of improvised incendiary device attempting to set a fire within the residence. As a second forcible entry attempt was made, Officer Goudie climbed a ladder to the second floor balcony to provide coverage for that position. While attempting to enter the unit, the offender fired the improvised blowtorch at the officers. After the subject retreated into a hallway and out of sight, he suddenly opened the sliding glass door and came face-to-face with Officer Goudie, advancing on him with the blowtorch’s flame. After repeatedly ordering the subject to drop the device, the subject continued to advance on Goudie. After aiming the blowtorch at Officer Goudie's face and refusing to drop the device, the subject was shot, ending the violent standoff.
- Darren D. Foulker and Michael E. McDonald, Rockford Police Department
Officers Foulker and McDonald were dispatched to an apartment building fire on May 3, 2004, with the occupants still inside. The officers entered the building and gained access to an upper-floor apartment where they found men, women, and children in a confused and excited state. The Officers were able to direct all of the building's 19 occupants outside to safety before the apartment complex became fully engulfed in flames.
- William Wozniak, Secretary of State Security
On September 20, 2004, a dangerous and mentally ill suspect entered a local gun store in Springfield firing shots at individuals in the store and then fleeing. The deranged suspect then drove onto the State Capitol's north drive with the loaded weapon concealed in his vehicle. Secretary of State Security Officer William Wozniak was standing his post inside at the north entrance guarding the Illinois State Capitol Building. The armed suspect ascended the stairs of the capitol, and upon entering the building shot Officer William Wozniak in the chest at point-blank range. He died as a result of the gunshot wound.
- John A. Zurick and Patrick T. O'Neil, West Chicago Police Department
On December 20, 2003, West Chicago Police Officers John A. Zurick and Patrick T. O'Neil responded to a report that children had fallen through ice on a pond. Upon Officer Zurick's arrival, he saw two boys in the water and a citizen laying on the ice holding one child, who was half on the ice and half in the water, by his jacket. The second boy was laying on top of the ice. Officer Zurick crawled out on the ice and was able to grab the child laying on the ice by the ankle, and drag him to land. He then crawled back out on the ice to the citizen and helped pull the other child out of the water. While he was trying to place the child as close to land as possible, the ice broke and Officer Zurick and the child went into the water. Officer O'Neil then entered the lake to help Zurick and another officer lift the boy out of the water.
- Christopher Drake and Robert Schaller, Willowbrook Police Department
While on patrol September 14, 2004, Willowbrook Police Officer Christopher Drake observed a male subject firing several shots into the passenger compartment of an extended cab pick-up truck. Drake then observed the suspect running from the scene with a handgun and radioed for backup while in pursuit on foot of the armed offender. Fellow Officer Robert Schaller immediately responded to the area and within minutes of the initial event, located the offender in a thick patch of weeds behind a local business. Upon investigation of the pick-up truck, it was discovered that three individuals had been fatally shot.
- Terry A. Klingel and Robbie Hart, Yorkville Police Department
After responding to a residence where a 9-1-1 hang-up call had originated on January 19, 2004, Yorkville Police Sergeant Terry A. Klingel found a hysterical Hispanic female standing outside. Although he could not understand the woman, he cautiously followed her into the residence where he found a male subject beating and kicking the male victim. When Sergeant Klingel attempted to stop the offender from beating the already unconscious victim, the offender turned on the officer who sprayed the offender with OC spray to no avail. While continuing to fight with the suspect, Sergeant Klingel was finally able to pull him away from the victim. Officer Robbie Hart then arrived on the scene and assisted in placing the offender into custody. The routine 9-1-1 hang-up call became Yorkville's first-ever homicide case resulting in first degree murder charges being filed against the offender for beating and kicking the victim, his father, to death.
The Law Enforcement Medal of Honor committee, created by statute, reviews nominations submitted annually for events occurring during the preceding year. The committee is chaired by Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent; Superintendent Philip Cline, Chicago Police Department; Officer Rhonda Bullock, FOP Board of Directors, Chicago Police Department; Chief Brian Fengel, Bartonville Police Department; (Retired) Sergeant James Fowler, Illinois State Police; Sheriff Robert Hertz, Madison County Sheriff's Office; and Director Thomas Jurkanin, Illinois Law Enforcement's Training and Standards Board.