August 10, 2021 (Boise) – Ten Idahoans will be awarded the Idaho Medal of Honor during a ceremony next week at the Idaho Capitol. The ceremony will include both 2020 and 2021 recipients after the 2020 ceremony was postponed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 recipients include two firefighters and two law enforcement officers. The 2021 recipients include six law enforcement officers. Each will receive the Idaho Medal of Honor for performing with exceptional courage and bravery while protecting the public.
Medals will be awarded Wednesday, August 18, at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. The ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m. in the Lincoln Auditorium, located in the west wing of the Garden Level.
The state’s highest honor for law enforcement officers, firefighting professionals and emergency medical service providers will be awarded to:
- Firefighter Jason Beck, McCall Fire Protection District (2020);
- Firefighter Jonathan Metz, McCall Fire Protection District (2020);
- Corporal Eric Duke, Nampa Police Department (2020);
- Officer Eric Olson, Lewiston Police Department (2020);
- Sergeant Justin Anderson, Post Falls Police Department (2021);
- Conservation Officer Randy Martinez, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (2021);
- Officer Robert Heaton, Caldwell Police Department (2021);
- Corporal Ben Heinrich, Caldwell Police Department (2021);
- Officer Celina Mortensen, Caldwell Police Department (2021); and
- Officer Seferino Tapia, Caldwell Police Department (2021).
“As chairman of the Idaho Medal of Honor Commission, it’s my distinct honor to announce this list of very deserving recipients,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “We have ten individuals who exemplify what it means to act with bravery and selflessness. On behalf of the entire commission, I congratulate each recipient and thank them for going above and beyond to protect the public.”
Beck and Metz will be honored for their actions following a fatal home explosion on March 17, 2019, in McCall. They were able to reach and extricate a victim who was trapped amid burning debris in the home’s basement.
The commission selected Duke as a 2020 recipient after his actions on March 27, 2018. Duke responded to a report of a stabbing in which a man had stabbed or slashed female residents at a Nampa home. Duke helped secure the suspect and end the threat while also performing life-saving measures on one of the victims.
Olson will receive the award for pursuing and engaging a drive-by shooting suspect in Lewiston on April 17, 2019. The incident included the suspect firing at Olson multiple times in multiple locations. Each time, Olson returned fire and continued pursuing the suspect, ultimately leading to a standoff that ended in the suspect’s death and the end of the threat to public safety.
The 2021 recipients include four members of the Caldwell Police Department. Heaton, Heinrich, Mortensen and Tapia will receive the Medal of Honor for responding to a report of an active shooter at a home on March 28, 2020. Each helped end the threat presented by the suspect who fired a rifle, shotgun and handgun at the officers.
Martinez will be honored for his actions while off duty on March 29, 2020, at a property near New Meadows. Nearby, two Adams County Sheriff’s deputies were responding to a call when a suspect opened fire and pinned the deputies behind their patrol vehicles. Martinez aided the deputies by relaying information about the shooter to them and then firing at the suspect when he advanced toward the officers. Martinez’s actions forced the suspect to flee and helped end the threat to the two deputies.
On March 3, 2020, Anderson was fired upon by a suspect while conducting surveillance outside a Post Falls residence. Anderson was hit in the abdomen but returned fire. He was able to retreat to his patrol vehicle and relay information to other officers, who were then able to establish a perimeter and prevent the suspect’s escape.
Full narratives of each of the 2020 recipients’ actions are available here, while full narratives of the 2021 recipients’ actions are available here.
The Idaho Legislature created the Idaho Medal of Honor in 2004 to generate statewide recognition for extraordinary acts of valor and heroism by Idaho firefighters and police. Emergency medical service (EMS) providers became eligible for the award in 2005.
For more information about the Idaho Medal of Honor and past recipients, visit: https://medalofhonor.idaho.gov/.