May 15, 2008 – (Boise) – Six Idaho peace officers will be honored tomorrow for extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as recipients of the Idaho Medal of Honor. Five officers will be honored for their valor in a fatal shooting rampage in Moscow, and one officer will be honored for heroism in rescuing a woman from the Boise River.
The Idaho Medal of Honor Commission announced today that the State of Idaho’s highest honor for law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMTs will be awarded to:
- Officer Jesse L. Applehans – Moscow Police Department
- Sergeant Phil A. Gray – Latah County Sheriff’s Office
- Sergeant Brannon J. Jordon – Latah County Sheriff’s Office
- Deputy Ryan S. Sillers – Latah County Sheriff’s Office
- Deputy Jay Waters – Latah County Sheriff’s Office
- Officer Brek Orton – Boise Police Department
“ The courage and selfless commitment to the service of others demonstrated by these officers reflects the values that the legislature intended to recognize when it created the medal,” Idaho Medal of Honor Commission Chairman William von Tagen said. “Their deeds are a credit to law enforcement and an inspiration for other officers and to all Idahoans.”
The Medals of Honor will be presented during ceremonies at the Idaho Peace Officers Memorial in Meridian at 10:00 AM Friday, May 16.
On Saturday, May 19, 2007, a man armed with two semi-automatic rifles went to the Latah County Sheriff’s Office and opened fire. During the incident, Moscow Police Officer Lee Newbill was shot.
Sergeant Gray and Sergeant Jordan, along with Deputy Waters and Officer Applehans, coordinated a rescue team. Using Sergeant Gray’s personal vehicle, they drove to Officer Newbill’s location to rescue him, fully expecting to be engaged by the suspect’s gunfire. They placed Officer Newbill into the vehicle and took him to a safer location, inadvertently leaving Sergeant Jordan behind.
Sergeant Jordan took a position of cover, ready to engage the suspect, and was ambushed and wounded by the suspect, who fired on him from a hidden location. Sergeant Gray, Deputy Waters, Officer Applehans, and Deputy Sillers, knowing they may be fired upon by the suspect, drove to Sergeant Jordan’s location to rescue him.
On August 7, 2007, Boise Police Officer Brek Orton responded to a call for a water rescue on the Boise River. Upon arrival, Officer Orton observed three Boise firefighters on a log in the river trying to cut a trapped woman’s bathing suit free from the limbs of a downed tree. She had been completely submerged under eight to ten inches of water for approximately ten minutes.
Officer Orton jumped into the swift current and made his way to the victim. Unable to touch bottom himself, Officer Orton held onto the log with one arm and pushed the victim upstream against the strong current. The firefighters were ready and able to immediately cut the bathing suit free from the branch.
Officer Orton held the victim as they were swept downstream, where he was able to pull her toward the shore. Officer Orton’s exceptionally brave and selfless actions allowed firefighters and EMS to begin resuscitation efforts, which saved Sari Starr’s life.
The Idaho Legislature established the Idaho Medal of Honor in 2004 to honor Idaho police officers, firefighters and EMTs who were killed in the line of duty or distinguished themselves by exceptional meritorious conduct.
For additional information about current and previous Idaho Medal of Honor recipients, visit the Medal of Honor Commission website.
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