Local offficer recognized

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A law enforcement officer who patrols the highways in Barry County was honored by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon last week.

Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Andrew Ward was one of seven public safety officers to receive the Missouri Medal of Valor from the governor during a special ceremony held Nov. 19 in Jefferson City. The Medal of Valor is given to individuals who perform extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism that saved the lives of Missourians.

"These officers, who come from across the state, represent the very best of Missouri's public safety community," said Gov. Nixon. "Each act of bravery was different, but in every instance, these officers acted selflessly without concern for their own safety and helped save the lives of their fellow Missourians."

Ward, a graduate of Cassville High School, was honored for rescuing a motorist who was trapped inside a burning car on Jan. 7, 2008, in Butler County, where Trooper Ward was assigned at the time.

According to news and eyewitness reports, Ward tried to remove the driver through the front passenger door, but the woman's foot was wedged under the brake pedal. With the fire intensifying, Ward dove through the driver's side door window and dislodged the woman's foot.

In the process, Ward could not get himself out of the burning vehicle and had to be pulled to safety by another trooper. Once out of the vehicle, Ward ran back to the passenger door, and with the help of several civilians, pulled the driver out of the vehicle to safety.

"I am continually impressed by the dedication of the men and women of Missouri's public safety community," Nixon said during the ceremony. "They and their families sacrifice daily so that we can have better and safer communities. All Missourians owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who selflessly work to protect us."

The Medal of Valor is awarded annually by Missouri's governor after recommendations are submitted by the Medal of Valor Review Board. Only seven medals are awarded each year.

The nominating form states the Medal of Valor is awarded " to a public safety officer who has exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her own personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life."

Trooper Ward is the son of Bryant and Julie Ward, of Shell Knob.

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