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Watch: Trump Hosts Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony [video + transcript]

President Donald Trump hosts the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor Awards Ceremony Tuesday afternoon.

The award is the highest national award for valor by a public safety officer.

“A public safety officer is a person (living or deceased) who is serving or has served in a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter; law enforcement officer, including a corrections, court, or civil defense officer; or emergency services officer, as determined by the U.S. Attorney General,” according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance website.

According to the web page, an act of valor is an action whereby the applicant:

  • displayed exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind
  • and used unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect human life

Full Transcript

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, thank you very much. And thank you — please — and thank you to Attorney General Sessions, and to Secretary Mnuchin, Director Pompeo, Congressman Issa for joining us for this very special ceremony.

To a very, very incredible group of heroes who we’re celebrating today, welcome all to the White House. Incredible job. Thank you.

To the families who are here with you, each of you also serves and sacrifices for your country, and so I want to thank all of the families, the great families, because you’re being honored, also. Thank you very much. Thank you. Great job. (Applause.) Right?

We’re also so pleased — and I will tell you — to be gathered here today to recognize 12 really extraordinary law enforcement officers and first responders, and to award them the Medal of Valor. And that’s a big deal.

As we come together to recognize these brave Americans, I know all of us here today, and across the entire nation, are grieving for the community of Parkland in the great state of Florida. We’re working very hard to make sense of these events.

On Saturday, I met with some of the survivors and their families, and I was moved — greatly moved, greatly moved — by their strength, their resilience; and heartbroken for the families whose loved ones were so cruelly torn from them forever. Forever and ever.

We cannot imagine the depths of their anguish, but we can pledge the strength of our resolve. And we must do more to protect our children. We have to do more to protect our children.

This week, I will be holding a number of discussions with students, local leaders, and law enforcement to develop concrete steps that we can take to secure our schools, safeguard our students, and protect our communities.

School safety is a top priority for my administration. That is why, when governors from across the nation visit the White House next week, we will be discussing, at great length, what the federal and state governments can do to keep our students safe.

This includes implementing commonsense security measures and addressing mental health issues, including better coordination between federal and state law enforcement to take swift action when there are warning signs.

In addition, after the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, I directed the Attorney General to clarify whether certain bump stock devices, like the one used in Las Vegas, are illegal under current law. That process began in December.

I just — a few moments ago — I signed a memorandum directing the Attorney General to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns. I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, Jeff, very soon.

The key in all of these efforts, as I said in my remarks the day after the shooting, is that we cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make a difference.

We must move past clichs and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work, and that make it easier for men and women of law enforcement to protect our children and to protect our safety.

In the aftermath of this evil massacre, our spirits have been lifted by the accounts of bravery at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — coaches, teachers, students, law enforcement officers, and others — who have shown us that the forces of love and courage are always stronger than the forces of evil and hate.

It’s this truth that brings us together today.

The 12 patriots we honor come from many places, and serve in many different roles, but they all share one thing in common: When faced with danger, they each put the lives of others before their own. These are very brave people that I’m standing with today.

Here with us are Lieutenant William Buchanan and Emergency Medical Technician Sean Ochsenbein. Where are you two guys? Yeah, that’s what I thought. (Laughter.) Good looking guys. That’s good.

They were both off duty near Elizabethton, in the great state of Tennessee — and it is a great state — when they saw a smoldering car with a passenger trapped inside.

They braved smoke, fire, and the danger of explosion to rescue the man. And they saved his life. People thought it would be impossible to save his life. William, Sean, thank you both very much. Great job. Great bravery. (Applause.)

Fire Engineer Stephen Gunn is also here. He was first on the scene of a dangerous fire started by an arsonist in Phoenix, Arizona. As flames engulfed the home, Engineer Gunn charged inside to save an unconscious man.

Within seconds, Stephen’s helmet began to melt and his skin began to burn — not good — but he carried the man out before the house collapsed. And that’s by seconds.

Engineer Gunn, I understand you keep your melted helmet as a reminder of that day. Now, you will have a symbol of our nation’s gratitude to go alongside of that very charred helmet. Something much prettier than that helmet. Beautiful medal. Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

On a February evening in California, Harbor Patrol Officer David Poirier, Jr., of Redondo Beach Fire Department was aboard a patrol boat with the captain when they received a call that people were drowning in the ocean. Four people who had been fishing along the sea wall were swept into the ocean by raging waves. This was a rough day.

Officer Poirier jumped into the dark, icy water and helped get the three survivors on top of a rock, while the captain went back for more help. And that on top of the rock was a rough stay for all of them.

Each time waves crashed over the rock, they were all tossed back into the water. But again and again, Officer Poirier rescued them until more help arrived, and saved the lives of those three people.

Officer Poirier, a job well done. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

When a gunman began firing at the employees of Excel Industries in Hesston, Kansas, Chief Douglas Schroeder charged into the building without any backup whatsoever. He closed in on the shooter, dodging bullets and firing back, until he stopped the killer cold.

Chief Schroeder, you saved a lot of lives. Thank God you were there. Thank you, Chief. Thank you. (Applause.)

Officer Andrew Hopfensperger, Jr. — that’s a very important “Jr.,” isn’t it? Huh? I know you’re very proud of your father — was patrolling the parking lot of Antigo High School in Wisconsin, during the school’s junior prom, when he heard a burst of gunfire. Within 19 seconds, he found the shooter, and took him down just before he was about to kill 4 innocent students.

Andrew, incredible job. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

Finally, when terrorists attacked defenseless employees of the San Bernardino Department of Public Health, six of the heroes with us today chased them down and put an end to their sinister rampage, which was going to get a lot worse.

During the attack, Officer Nicholas Koahou was shot in the leg. But he continued to fight back, despite a really horrific wound.

Today, we are fortunate to honor him and the rest of that amazing team — Corporal Rafael Ixco, Detective Bruce Southworth, Deputy Shaun Wallen, Detective Brian Olvera, and Investigator Chad Johnson. Thank you all very much. That’s great. Great. (Applause.)

Some fantastic stories, and we thank you. To each of the 12 heroes who are about to receive the Medal of Valor, you have earned an eternal place in the gratitude, in our history, and in our hearts. Through your service and sacrifice, we are reminded that America’s greatest treasure is her people. In your courage, we see America’s strength. And in your character, we see America’s soul.

And today, one proud nation says to all of you: Thank you, God bless you, and God forever bless these great heroes. (Applause.) Fantastic. Thank you, fellas. Nice work, gentlemen. Thank you so much.

Now I’d like to ask the military aide to come forward and read the citations.

MILITARY AIDE: Medal of Valor, presented to Lieutenant William Buchanan of the Avery County, North Carolina Sheriffs Office and Emergency Medical Technician Sean Ochsenbein of the Putnam County, Tennessee Rescue Squad.

For thinking quickly and acting courageously to rescue a man from a burning vehicle following a violent two-car collision. The two officers had never met and were off duty at the time of the accident, but their coordinated and selfless actions ensured the safety of the driver.

(The Medal of Valor is presented.) (Applause.)

Engineer Stephen Gunn.

Medal of Valor, presented to Engineer Stephen Gunn of the Peoria, Arizona Fire-Medical Department

For stepping through smoke and flames to rescue an unconscious man from a house set on fire by an arsonist. As the intense heat melted his helmet and burned his skin, Engineer Gunn managed to remove the victim from a room engulfed in flames.

(The Medal of Valor is presented.) (Applause.)

Firefighter/Harbor Patrol Officer, David Poirier, Jr.

Medal of Valor presented to Firefighter/Harbor Patrol Officer David Poirier Junior of the Redondo Beach, California Fire Department.

For skillfully braving rocky shoals and dangerous pounding surf, in darkness, to rescue three injured and drowning persons.

(Medal of Valor is presented.) (Applause.)

Chief Douglas Schroeder.

Medal of Valor presented to Chief Douglas Schroeder of the Hesston, Kansas, Police Department.

For confronting a workplace shooter responsible for killing and wounding several people. Chief Schroeder came under fire before mortally wounding the shooter and ending a day-long spree of assaults.

(Medal of Valor is presented.) (Applause.)

Officer Andrew Hopfensperger, Jr.

Medal of Valor presented to Officer Andrew Hopfensperger Jr., of the Antigo, Wisconsin Police Department.

For singlehandedly saving the lives of four students who were targeted by a gunman and preventing the deaths of many others during a shooting at a prom.

(Medal of Valor is presented.) (Applause.)

Officer Nicholas Koahou, Corporal Rafael Ixco, Detective Bruce Southworth, Deputy Shaun Wallen, Detective Brian Olvera, District Attorney Investigator Chad Johnson.

Medal of Valor presented to Officer Nicholas Koahou of the Redlands, California Police Department; Corporal Rafael Ixco, Detective Bruce Southworth, and Deputy Shaun Wallen of the San Bernardino County, California Sheriffs Office; Detective Brian Olvera of the San Bernardino, California Police Department; and District Attorney Investigator Chad Johnson of the San Bernardino, California County District Attorneys Office.

For bravely pursuing two heavily armed assailants who had killed 14 people in an attack on a San Bernardino, California workplace. The officers sustained fire from assault weapons before mortally wounding both terrorists.

(Medals of Valor are presented.) (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Very brave people. I want to thank you in particular. And enjoy the rest of your day, folks. We’re doing some incredible things in our country and you’re starting to see.

And we will be working very, very hard on that horrible, horrible issue that took place last week in Florida. We’re working very hard. We’re going to come up with solutions. It’s been many, many years and there have been no solutions. We’re going to come up with solutions.

Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. Thank you. (Applause.)

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Rich Mitchell

Rich Mitchell is the editor-in-chief of Conservative Daily News and the president of Bald Eagle Media, LLC. His posts may contain opinions that are his own and are not necessarily shared by Bald Eagle Media, CDN, staff or .. much of anyone else. Find him on twitter, facebook and

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