Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 27, 2009

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

FBI Director Presents Honorary FBI Medals

Today, Director Robert S. Mueller, III presented 42 honorary FBI medals to 38 recipients in a standing-room only ceremony at FBI Headquarters. The awards—the FBI Star, the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement, the FBI Shield of Bravery, and the FBI Medal of Valor—recognize exceptional acts by both FBI and other law enforcement personnel working with the FBI, across the country and around the world.

"These men and women are not the kind to call attention to their individual acts of heroism, but those brave and courageous acts deserve our attention and our gratitude. Today we stand here and formally recognize them with the FBI’s highest honors,” said Director Mueller.

Group photo of the award recipients at the event.
FBI and other law enforcement recipients of the Bureauís honorary medals, presented by Director Robert Mueller in Washington, D.C., were recognized for exceptional acts across the country and around the world.

The FBI Star is awarded for serious injury sustained in the direct line of duty from physical confrontation with criminal adversaries, an injury inflicted by weapons, gunshot wounds inflicted in the line of duty, or an injury so severe that it would require hospitalization, substantial emergency room treatment, or significant medical treatment for a sustained period of time.

Today’s recipients of the FBI Star include:

  • Major Peter Norton of the British Army, a Captain at the time, was seriously injured in a bomb blast in Iraq while serving as a team leader for a Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell mission alongside two FBI Special Agent Bomb Technicians.
  • Supervisory Special Agent (SSA) Bruce Bennett, SSA Earl Camp, SSA Tricia Gibbs, and Special Agent (SA) Raymond Pitesky, for their actions related to a bombing attack in Islamabad, Pakistan, in March of 2008; and Detective Superintendent Keith Pearce of the Metropolitan Police Service in London, England, who was with the agents when the attack took place.

The FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement is awarded for extraordinary and exceptional meritorious service in a duty of extreme challenge and great responsibility, extraordinary and exceptional achievements in connection with criminal or national security cases, or a decisive, exemplary act that results in the protection or the direct saving of life in severe jeopardy in the line of duty.

Today’s recipients of the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement include:

  • SSA Harold Bickmore, for his heroic and selfless efforts to save the life of a 16-year-old girl following a traffic accident on a highway in a suburb of Boston.
  • SSA John Dunn, for his actions while assigned to the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team in Iraq, working to disrupt and dismantle the al Qaeda in Iraq network.
  • SSA Tricia Gibbs, for her conduct during the March 2008 bombing attack in Islamabad, Pakistan, for which she also received the FBI Star.
  • SA Sean J. Burke, SA Jeffrey Dowdy, SA Michael Dupler, SA Daniel Gaston, SA Jason Kruger, SA Haejun Park, and SSA Jeffrey Wood, Jr., for their courageous response to the scene of a grenade attack at the Serena Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January 2008.

The FBI Shield of Bravery is presented for brave and courageous acts occurring in the line of duty or within the scope of FBI employment, which may extend to major assistance to a task force or undercover operation, grave situations, or crisis confrontations associated with the highest priority cases of the FBI.

Today’s recipients of the FBI Shield of Bravery include:

  • SSA Nicholas Boshears, in recognition of an exceptional act of bravery while assigned to a team in Iraq tasked with providing immediate analysis of improvised explosive devices. SA Boshears provided first aid to Captain Norton after the blast that injured him.
  • SA Charles Davis, for his heroic actions while assigned to the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team in Iraq in 2006, working in support of the U.S. military to conduct sensitive searches, capture and interview insurgents, and recover weapons and other evidence.
  • SSA Christopher Rigopoulos, for heroic actions while on assignment in Iraq, providing life-saving medical assistance and physically shielded soldiers who had been gravely injured when a bomb exploded in the midst of their convoy.
  • SSA Stephen J. Clark and SSA William T. Francis, Jr., for their heroic actions under enemy gunfire while assigned to the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team in Iraq.
  • SA Ronald Eowan, Department of State Senior Regional Security Officer Earl Miller, and former SA Paul Myers, for their investigation that led to the arrest of the 12 terrorists responsible for a 2002 ambush on 10 school teachers and a 6-year-old child in Indonesia. Two U.S. citizens and one Indonesian citizen were killed in the attack, and the surviving eight Americans were seriously wounded.
  • SA Steven J. Binney, SA David L. Bonney, SA G. Joseph Bradley, III, SA Jeffrey Cisar, Maryland State Police Captain Mark E. Gibbons, SA Thomas E. Huegerich, SA Christopher Mayfield, SA Paul V. Miller, SA Kevin P. Murray, SA Joe Pientka, III, SSA Michael E. Saltz, SA Jae B. Shim, SA Robert B. Tucker, and SA Kevin Vorndran. These 14 individuals were involved in a standoff and shootout at the apartment of a dangerous felon who had threatened to open fire on police at the United States Capitol Building. In the midst of the standoff, the team safely evacuated the residents of the adjacent apartments, including a family with two small children. Eventually, the team re-entered the apartment to arrest the subject, who continued to shoot at them until he was killed by return fire.

The FBI Medal of Valor is presented in recognition of an exceptional act of heroism or voluntary risk of personal safety and life, and this act must have occurred in the direct line of duty or within the scope of FBI employment and in the face of criminal adversaries.

Today’s recipients of the FBI Medal of Valor include:

  • SA Robert Merta, for investigating and locating a dangerous fugitive in 1989. His courageous actions during the arrest, tackling the subject in an attempt to disarm him when the subject opened fire, protected his fellow agents from grave harm.
  • SSA Christopher Rigopoulos, for his actions in Iraq saving the lives of his convoy at great risk to his own life—for which he also received the Shield of Bravery—and for participating in the rescue of Captain Norton following a bomb blast.
  • SSA Stephen J. Clark and SSA William T. Francis, Jr., for their work on FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team in Iraq, putting aside their own safety and putting their lives on the line on a day-to-day basis, for which they also received the Shield of Bravery.

The FBI created the Honorary Medals Program in 1989 to recognize exceptional acts by FBI agents and professional support personnel, as well as other law enforcement officers working with the Bureau. The program features five honorary medals, including those presented here today and the FBI Memorial Star, presented to a surviving relative where death has occurred in the line of duty as the direct result of an adversarial action. These medals are among the highest honors in the FBI. Fewer than 400 have ever been awarded.

-Director Mueller's remarks
-Assistant Director Raucci's remarks

Photo of the FBI Star Photo of the FBI Meritorious Achievement medal Photo of the The FBI Memorial Star Photo of the FBI Shield of Bravery Photo of the FBI Medal of Valor
The FBI Star is awarded for serious injury sustained in the direct line of duty from physical confrontation with criminal adversaries, an injury inflicted by weapons, gunshot wounds inflicted in the line of duty, or an injury so severe that it would require substantial emergency room sutures, hospitalization, or comprehensive medical treatment for a sustained period of time. The FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement is awarded for extraordinary and exceptional meritorious service in a duty of extreme challenge and great responsibility, extraordinary and exceptional achievements in connection with criminal or national security cases, or a decisive, exemplary act that results in the protection or the direct saving of life in severe jeopardy in the line of duty. The FBI Memorial Star is presented to a surviving relative where death has occurred in the line of duty as the direct result of an adversarial action. The FBI Shield of Bravery is presented for brave and courageous acts occurring in the line of duty or within the scope of FBI employment which may extend to major assistance to a task force or undercover operation, grave situations, or crisis confrontations associated with the highest priority cases of the FBI. The FBI Medal of Valor is presented in recognition of an exceptional act of heroism or voluntary risk of personal safety and life, and this act must have occurred in the direct line of duty or within the scope of FBI employment and in the face of criminal adversaries.

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