September 9, 2016  (Boise) – Two firefighters have been selected to receive the Idaho Medal of Honor for performing with exceptional courage and bravery during rescues in 2015.

The recipients will receive their medals Friday during a ceremony at the Idaho Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Boise.

The 2016 recipients of the state’s highest honor for firefighters, law enforcement officers and EMS providers will be awarded to:

  • John Ward, of Kootenai County Fire & Rescue;
  • Sean Allen, of the Idaho Falls Fire Department.


“There is no better way to recognize and express our appreciation for the valor, courage and bravery shown by our firefighters than the Medal of Honor,” said Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, chairman of the Medal of Honor Commission.

“After reviewing the nominations and learning the facts of each rescue, it was clear to members of the commission that each of these firefighters placed the life of others before their own and that their actions exemplify what it means to act above and beyond the call of duty,” Wasden said.

For Lt. Ward, his acts of heroism occurred while he was off-duty. The rescue began on April 13, 2015, after realizing that his neighbor’s home in Rathdrum was on fire. After approaching the structure, Ward discovered that most of the residents were outside the home.

Yet, a woman bound to a wheelchair remained inside. Ward then approached the home, knelt down to see beneath the layers of black smoke filling the home and acted quickly to save two pets just inside the door. He then saw the woman lying about 12-feet away.

Despite the hot smoke, Ward, without any of his usual protective fire gear, crawled into the structure, reached the woman and pulled her to safety.

Firefighter Allen was part of a team responsible for rescuing a motorist who had crashed and overturned his vehicle in an Idaho Falls irrigation canal on Sept. 25, 2015.

When Allen arrived at the crash site, the vehicle was unstable in the canal and almost completely submerged in more than three feet of cold water. Allen entered the canal to help Bonneville County Sheriff deputies trying to rescue the driver.

After trying several times to break into the vehicle, rescuers finally gained entry via a back door. At that point, Allen, disregarding his own safety, climbed into the submerged vehicle, cut the victim free, pulled him from the car and got him to the banks of the canal and began providing first aid.

Three Bonneville County Sheriff deputies were also awarded the Medal of Honor during the Idaho Peace Officers Memorial ceremony earlier this year.

The Idaho Medal of Honor was created by the Legislature in 2004. The statute directs that the medal be awarded by the Governor to professionals whose actions have been distinguished by the exceptional meritorious conduct at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.

For more information about the Idaho Medal of Honor and past recipients, please visit the Idaho Medal of Honor website.

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