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SPRINGFIELD – Firefighters from across the state gathered in Springfield Thursday to remember three firefighters who died in service and honor 21 other firefighters for their outstanding bravery and service to their communities during the 19th Annual Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial and Firefighting Medal of Honor Ceremony.

The ceremony began in the State Capitol Complex area with the presentation of colors and an invocation at the Illinois Fallen Firefighter Memorial, followed by the awards ceremony at the Prairie Capital Convention Center.

“The amazing bravery demonstrated by the firefighters being recognized here today proves that it takes an extraordinary person to be in this profession,” said Illinois State Fire Marshal Larry Matkaitis. “Day in and day out, these men and women put their lives on the line to protect us, and on behalf of Governor Quinn, I am very proud to thank each of you for your dedication to public safety. Today we’re also reminded of the dangers of this noble profession, as we solemnly honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives in the line of duty.”

Three firefighters who died in, or as a result of, the performance of duty were honored during the ceremonies as their families were presented with the Duty Death Gold Badge by Fire Marshal Matkaitis. Those recognized include the late Daniel Dare, a Firefighter with the Avon Fire District, the late Patrick Hannon, a Lieutenant/EMT with the Chicago Fire Department and the late Corey Ray Shaw, a Firefighter with the Du Quoin Fire Department.

Six firefighters received the Firefighter Excellence Award for an act of service in the line of duty, demonstrating excellence and professionalism in service to the citizens of the State of Illinois. Recipients include:

• Lieutenant/EMT Daniel McDonagh, Chicago Fire Department

• Firefighter/EMT Edward Galloza, Chicago Fire Department 503**12

• Firefighter/Paramedic Jon Christensen, East Joliet Fire Department

• Firefighter Casey Caldwell, Lockport Township Fire Protection District

• Firefighter Courtney Murphy, Lockport Township Fire Protection District

• Firefighter Daniel Sullivan, Lockport Township Fire Protection District

In addition, eleven firefighters were recognized for acts of heroism or bravery that clearly demonstrated courage and dedication in the face of danger. Medal of Valor award recipients include:

• Firefighter Thomas O’Connell, Chicago Fire Department

• Firefighter/Paramedic Thomas Meziere, Chicago Fire Department

• Lieutenant Andre Raiford, Chicago Fire Department

• Firefighter/Paramedic Todd Taylor, Chicago Fire Department

• Lieutenant/EMT Robert Beuse, Jr., Franklin Park Fire Department

• Firefighter/Paramedic Thomas Thomson, Franklin Park Fire Department

• Firefighter Joseph E. Grodjesk, Galesburg Fire Department

• Captain Derek W. Perry, Galesburg Fire Department

• Captain Phil Decker, Highland-Pierron Fire Department

• Captain Brian Klostermann, Highland-Pierron Fire Department

• Firefighter Stephen Linenfelser, Highland-Pierron Fire Department

The Medal of Honor award, the highest award given to firefighters by the state of Illinois, was presented to four firefighters who were selected for their acts of outstanding bravery or heroism, by which they demonstrated selflessness and personal courage above and beyond the call of duty, under adverse conditions, with the possibility of extreme personal risk. Recipients include:

• Firefighter Stephen Curley, Chicago Fire Department

• Firefighter Christopher Pratt, Odin Fire District • Lieutenant Eric Becks, Quincy Fire Department

• Firefighter Justin Twaddle, Quincy Fire Department

The awards presented recognized heroic actions during 2011. Nominations were reviewed and winners selected by the ten-member Illinois Firefighting Medal of Honor Committee.