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Commerce medals presented for lifesaving and the protection of property 1955 - 2000

National Weather Service/Weather Bureau

1955 Exceptional Service Award

Grady Norton, (posthumous), Miami, Florida -- For contributions of exceptional value to humanity and the public safety in developing the hurricane warning service.

Milton F. Barlow, Hartford, Connecticut -- For outstanding competence and initiative in warning the public of the approach of Hurricane Carol

Reuben L. Frost, Wilmington, North Carolina -- For outstanding competence and service to the public during Hurricane Hazel

Waldo H. Jones, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina -- For outstanding service in warning the public of the approach of Hurricane Hazel

1956 Meritorious Service Award

Richard A. Brintzenhofe, Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- For outstanding service to the public and demonstrated unusual courage and competence during a tornado at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on June 27, 1955.

Charles B. Carney, Raleigh, North Carolina -- For sustained highly valuable service to the public, including urgent warnings and precautionary advice concerning the severe hurricanes Connie and Diane which struck North Carolina in 1955.

James N. Hosey, Scottsbluff, Nebraska -- For outstanding service to the public and demonstrated unusual courage and competence during a tornado at Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on June 27, 1955.

Roy E. Lundquist, Cincinnati, Ohio -- For major scientific and administrative contributions to the river and flood forecasting program, including outstanding service during the Ohio River flood of February 26 through March 10, 1955.

1961 Meritorious Service Award

John W. Hayes, Fort Myers, Florida -- For outstanding service to the public and unusual courage and competence at Fort Myers during Hurricane Donna on September 10, 1960.

1962 Meritorious Service Award

Ernest Carson, Galveston, Texas -- For outstanding public service at Galveston, Texas, during the approach and passage of Hurricane Carla in September 1961.

1962 Exceptional Service Award

W. Clyde Conner, New Orleans, Louisiana -- For outstanding contributions as District Forecaster at New Orleans, with particular reference to exceptional performance in forecasting and issuing public warnings for destructive Hurricane Carla in September 1961. The accurate, timely, and forceful warnings during this emergency established a new level of achievement in hurricane forecasting. Mass evacuation of the area as a result of the warnings is credited with saving thousands of lives.

1966 Exceptional Service Award

Ralph E. Walker, Miami, Florida -- With disregard for his own safety, Mr. Walker displayed unusual courage the night of July 15, 1965 when he entered a burning fuel storage area enclosed by a high fence to help a trapped oil company employee to safety. Although the flames were quite intense, Mr. Walker removed his own shirt and wrapped it around the employee who was engulfed in flames. Mr. Walker finally managed to extinguish the flames even though the man was still saturated with fumes. This heroic deed demonstrates Mr. Walker’s desire to help his fellowman and his ability to plan and act promptly and correctly under the most hazardous conditions.

1967 Exceptional Service Award

Richard A. Garrett, Topeka, Kansas -- Mr. Garrett is cited for his unusual awareness of and sensitivity to the public needs in the severe weather warning realm as well as his imaginative leadership and response to these which led to his developing, implementing, and maintaining such an effective tornado warning system that resulted in the saving of many lives when an extremely destructive tornado struck Topeka, Kansas last June 8 causing over $100,000,000 property damage.

Clarence E. Lamoureux, Des Moines, Iowa -- Mr. Lamoureux is awarded for exemplary performance in warning the public of natural disasters in Iowa especially the extreme snow melt flooding in the spring of 1965 and the extemely effective handling of weather forecasting and warning responsibilities in connection with a blizzard in March 1966, which resulted in saving of lives, livestock, and property.

1968 Exceptional Service Award

Ernest G. Bice, Brownsville, Texas -- This award is in recognition of rare and outstanding leadership of a Weather Bureau station during the extreme emergency conditions of Hurricane Beulah, September 1967. Despite personal danger and loss of contact with home and family, the Brownsville staff responded to Mr. Bice’s leadership with an exemplary team effort which resulted in the continued flow of vital storm warnings, accurate weather observations and operation of emergency equipment. Commendations from area user groups attest his distinguished leadership.

Douglas H. Christensen, Brownsville, Texas -- Mr. Douglas Christensen displayed unusual courage and competence on September 20, 1967. He worked long hours at great personal risk to himself in order to keep the emergency generator in operation so that the Brownsville radar could operate during and after the passing of Hurricane Beulah.

Charles M. Crouch, Amarillo, Texas -- Mr Crouch has earned special recognition for his outstanding leadership in the Severe Weather Warning Program in the Texas Panhandle. Mr. Crouch displayed a high degree of competence by timely warnings of the destructive tornado at Miami, Texas, on May 6, 1968.

1969 Exceptional Service Award

William L. Tilson, Mobile, Alabama -- Mr. William L. Tilson’s outstanding display of initiative and ingenuity during Hurricane Camille’s approach to the Mississippi Coast resulted in the issuance of timely warnings and the saving of many lives. His precise judgment of the dangers that were posed to coastal areas by Camille combined with his ingenuity in utilizing all available communication means for the dissemination of warning to all areas, including isolated and outlying areas, permitted an early and orderly evacuation and prevented panic from arising. His excellent pre-storm planning and staff leadership resulted in exemplary team effort by the staff of the Mobile Office that provided a continuous flow of vital warnings and information. His graphic warning messages are credited by many officials with saving the lives of at least five thousand people.

River and Flood Forecasting and Warning Programs, Silver Spring, Maryland, Kansas City Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota -- Messrs. Verne Alexander, William E. Hiatt, Joseph H. Strub, Jr., Ray E. Johnson, and Herman F. Mondschein, working as a highly effective team, were responsible for and eminently successful in issuing and coordinating very timely, accurate and highly useful river stage outlooks, forecasts, and flood warnings in connection with the widespread Upper Midwest snowmelt floods during the spring of 1969. Through the River Forecast Center at Kansas City, Missouri and the River District Office at Minneapolis, Minnesota, they were responsible for issuing a highly useful lookout of expected river stages more than a month in advance of the actual flooding. These forecasts of expected river stages served as a basis for flood preparations on the Federal, state and local levels. These protective measures, known as “Operation Foresight,” resulting in savings of millions of dollars.

1969 Meritorious Service Award

William R. Long, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- Mr. Long has shown outstanding leadership, management ability, and initiative in contributing to the establishment of an interagency river basin management program. This was the first effort in a planned collaboration between a Weather Bureau Office and a River Basin Commission. As such, there were no existing precedents to serve as guidelines in establishing the cooperative endeavor. Mr. Long’s highly efficient approach in assisting in the formation of this pioneer program was instrumental in developing the ground rules for future programs of this nature. His tireless efforts, expended under difficult and trying circumstances, clearly contributed to the savings of life and property during the May, 1968 floods in New Jersey.

Barbara McKain, Norfolk, Nebraska -- Miss McKain demonstrated exceptional resourcefulness during the severe snowstorm of December 21-23, 1968, by recognizing in the early evening hours of the 21st that an approaching storm would develop into a severe blizzard in the Norfolk, Nebraska area. Miss McKain manned the Norfolk Weather Bureau Office almost single-handedly from 5 p.m., December 21 through most of December 23, issuing warnings & storm reports and continuing other essential services for 42 consecutive hours. Street and highway conditions made it impossible for other employees to reach the office during this period. Miss McKain again demonstrated her unusual competence and exceptional resourcefulness during the heavy spring, 1969 floods in the Norfolk area.

River Forecast Center, Kansas City, Missouri -- Russell G. Mann, Robert N. Craig, Dale G. Lillie, Robert H. Dickson, Lewis P. Hahn, Earl A. Johnson, Charles K. Nevins, Delmar J. Taylor, William M. Willard, Miss Dorothy B. Tudor, Mrs. Marceline L. Mayfield, Elroy C. Balke, Miss Helen L. Berridge of the Kansas City River Forecast Center and Regional Headquarters staffs of the ESSA Weather Bureau were responsible for preparing and disseminating very timely, outstandingly accurate, and highly useful river stage outlooks and flood warnings in connection with the widespread Upper Midwest snowmelt floods during the spring of 1969. This outlook, of expected river stages in the river basins of the Upper Midwest, was issued more than a month in advance of the actual occurrence of the snowmelt floods. This team was also extremely effective in issuing and updating the more specific one, two, and three-day river stage forecasts and warnings on a day-by-day basis as the rivers rose to flood stage, crested, and then receded.

1970 Gold Medal

Harold L. Frost, Lubbock, Texas -- Under Mr. Frost’s leadership of the weather warning program at Lubbock, Texas, an extraordinarily competent severe weather warning service has been developed and maintained. Outstanding skill and action were displayed by the Lubbock Weather Office in issuing warnings over one hour in advance of the tornado which generated and first set down over the downtown area of City of Lubbock on May 11, 1970. The tornado caused damage between 100 and 200 million dollars. The warnings are given much credit for the low loss of life in this city of 170,000 people.

1970 Silver Medal

Hilmer A. Crumrine, Kansas City, Missouri -- Mr. Crumrine rendered outstanding forecast service in connection with the Texas Panhandle tornado outbreak of April 17-18, 1970. Between 10:00 P. M. and 2:30 A. M. at least six destructive tornadoes struck the area doing widespread devastation. All tornadoes were located within the boundary of a tornado watch bulletin issued earlier by Mr. Crumrine, giving local authorities advance notice to alert the residents. Mr. Crumrine’s outstanding forecast helped cut down on the high death toll that so often accompanies the night-time tornado. In addition his skill over the past five years has been demonstrated by his correct forecasting of a tornado outbreak known as the “Palm Sunday” and of an outbreak on May 15, 1968, which was second only to the “Palm Sunday” in severity.

1973 Gold Medal

River Forecast Center, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania -- The River Forecast Center in Harrisburg was the focal point of National Weather Service flood warning operations during Hurricane Agnes. The rains caused devastating, record breaking floods, particularly in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, and Maryland. For a storm in which damage reached $3.5 billion, the death toll of 118 was very light. Surveys and testimony indicate that large numbers of lives were saved as a result of forecasts and warnings emanating from the RFC. Because of timel warnings, emergency crews were able to evacuate more than 100,000 persons from Wilkes Barre alone before the dikes were topped. Operations at the RFC were carried on under the most trying conditions. Messrs. Ola D. White, Donald J. Close, Lars O. Feese, Myron W. Gwinner, Michael C. Mark, Nicholas R. Pavick, Bruce A. Whyte, Paul A. Marin performed extraordinarily under intense emotional stress aggravated by simultaneous record breaking flooding from southern Virginia to southern New York, despite loss of electric power which turned off the lights and made elevators and computers inoperative and without gauging stations which were destroyed.

1973 Silver Medal

George H. Schielein, Albany, New York -- Mr. George H. Schielein’s quick assessment of a dangerous situation in a strange environment and his perfect response to the problem required both initiative and fortitude. He, a meteorologist, had been dispatched to Rochester from his home station in Albany. Immediately upon his arrival in Rochester, he was faced with a reservoir release problem upstream on the Genesse River. Although he was not familiar with the reservoir or the river, he perceived the disastrous consequences of planned reservoir releases. His prompt notification of the reservoir operator and subsequent coordination averted a catastrophic flood in the Rochester area.

1974 Silver Medal

Robert Belesky, Cincinnati, Ohio -- Mr. Belesky is recognized for his superior radar interpretations and outstanding performance under extreme stress during the violent outbreak of April 3, 1974 tornadoes and severe thunderstorms over a large area covered by the Cincinnati radar. His speed and accuracy in forwarding his interpretative observations to the Weather Service Offices and Weather Service Forecast Offices under the Cincinnati radar umbrella enabled them to issue timely warnings to the public and to minimize the loss of life.

John R. Burke, Louisville, Kentucky -- Mr. Burke’s outstanding leadership and his direct participation in the operations of the Louisville Weather Service Forecast Office have fostered a high degree of capablility among his staff. WSFO Louisville provided warnings for most of the catastrophic tornadoes that occurred in Kentucky on April 3, 1974. Mr. Burke’s advance community preparedness resulted in full-time warning coverage by WHAS Radio prior to and during the tornado. Mr. Burke was broadcasting via telephone while watching the tornado-producing storm approach the airport. Although no funnel was visible, his personal reporting of the storm, while standing nearly in direct path of the tornado, alerted the public to take cover, resulting in much saving of life.

Clarence L. David, Kansas City, Missouri -- Mr. Davis is recognized for outstanding performance of duty as leading forecaster, Severe Local Storms, during the disastrous outbreak of tornadoes on April 3, 1974. In this capacity and under the stress of almost unmanageable deadlines, Mr. David acted with professional calm and deliberation. He continuously monitored a wealth of incoming data, translating this information into extremely accurate tornado watches. For example, at one point he issued a series of 8 forecasts which correctly located 48 reported tornadoes. Were it not for timely warnings based in considerable measure on his forecasting skills, many thousands of lives would have been lost.

James B. Elliott, Birmingham, Alabama -- Mr. Elliott is cited for his extraordinary competence during a series of devastating tornadoes that occurred in Northern Alabama during 1973. His exceptional skill and devotion to duty in the timely and effective issuance of tornado warnings were instrumental in keeping the loss of life to a minimum. His initiative, talent, and dedication have enabled him to become a leader in the area of severe weather warnings. His performance under pressure is flawless.

John M. Robinson, Cincinnati, Ohio -- Mr. Robinson is recognized for his performance and timely issuance of warnings that minimized loss of life on April 3, 1974, during the violent outbreak of several tornadoes and severe thunderstorms over a large area covered by the Cincinnati radar, and for his outstanding leadership, and cool and decisive actions under extreme stress. His direction of the operations of the Cincinnati Office, his skillful coordination with other weather offices in the four-state area, and his close cooperation with community action authorities were instrumental in the saving of an untold number of lives.

Weather Service Office, Huntsville, Alabama -- Messrs. Douglas L. Davis, Wilton L. Rodgers, and Thomas E. Ward are cited for their devotion to duty and outstanding courage during the Huntsville tornado of April 3, 1974. The tornado was sighted in the late afternoon rapidly approaching Huntsville from the southwest on a projected path that included the Weather Service Office. They remained at their posts, disregarding their personal safety, to perform duties essential to the process of providing warnings of the impending danger to the public. Dramatic warning messages were broadcast over radio and TV alerting the surrounding area residents of the coming disaster. Many lives were saved by the dedication of these three Weather Service employees.

1975 Gold Medal

Spencer Bennett and Randolph Moore, Islas del Cisne Meteorological Station, Honduras --
Messrs. Bennett and Moore are recognized for heroic action during a storm, December 10, 1974, on Islas del Cisne (Swan Island), a tiny weather observing outpost in the Caribbean. During this storm they rescued 19 shipwrecked fishermen at a great risk to their own lives. The Honduran fishing vessel LUCKY GIRL encountered heavy seas about 20 miles northwest of Islas del Cisne. The hull ruptured and the ship began to sink rapidly. The Captain sent an SOS and then ordered all hands to abandon ship. The SOS was picked up by the Swan Island Meteorological Station, and personnel there responded immediately. The Swan Islanders launched two small motorboats into the rough seas to seek survivors of the LUCKY GIRL. Demonstrating superb seamanship in heavy seas in outboard motorboats, they successfully searched out and towed to Swan Island eight dugout canoes, containing nineteen men. Because of their courage, not a single life was lost.

1977 Silver Medal

Ronald E. Drummond, Beckley, West Virginia; Russell L. Durham, Louisville, Kentucky; Philip C. Zinn, Charleston, West Virginia -- Messrs. Drummond, Durham, and Zinn are recognized for their prompt assessment of the imminent and widespread threat to life and property and for their decisive actions in an unusual flood emergency which avoided the loss of many lives in the Appalachian Flood of April 4 and 5, 1977, in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. They provided a continous flow of bulletins, statements, and advisories to the affected counties and communities, thus helping them to prepare for the flood emergency. As a result of their efforts, although many communities lost power during the heavy rains, the early warnings disseminated by these men enabled preparations to be made to lessen flood damage.

1979 Gold Medal

John E. Kibler, Lon R. Burke, Joe Bob Freeman, Francis L. Cannon, Lewis M. Croom, Merlin J. Van Dunk, Jerry M. Eckhart, Wichita Falls, Texas -- At 5:08 p.m., April 10, 1979, the Wichita Falls Weather Service Office (WSO) issued a tornado warning for Wichita County, Texas, including the town of Wichita Falls, population 82,000. Fifty-two minutes later a giant tornado moved into the southwestern part of town and plowed a path of destruction a mile wide along its southern perimeter where 16,000 people lived and worked. When the tornado passed, 45 people had been killed and 210 million dollars of property had been destroyed. Because of the early warning through radio, police, and civil defense sirens, most had sought shelter and saved their own lives. The editor of the Wichita Falls Record News wrote on April 13: “Forecasters in Wichita Falls -- save lives with each storm and citizens of North Texas and Southern Oklahoma should appreciate their efforts. It was a job well done, with dispatch and professionalism.: Through years of hard, dedicated work in disaster preparedness and warnings, the staff of WSO Wichita Falls has made a major contribution to their key mission: to save lives when disasters threaten.

1979 Silver Medal

David E. Harmon, Abilene, Texas -- Mr. Harmon is cited for exceptional leadership and technical management as Official in Charge of the Weather Service Office at Abilene, Texas. He has developed a highly effective natural disaster effectiveness program for North Central Texas. The plan was given the severest of tests during the historic August 3, 4, and 5, 1978 flash flood and yet worked almost flawlessly in spite of tremendous odds. Mr. Harmon’s effective use of NOAA Weather Radio, NOAA Weather Wire, local Civil Defense authorities and frequent broadcasts over commercial radio station KDWT to disseminate warnings minimized the loss of life. These same leadership qualities, personal technical competence, and ability to motivate his staff have also resulted in the station achieving an unparalleled Southern Region record for consecutive excellent ratings in annual station inspection.

1980 Gold Medal

Ray H. Barnes, Mobile, Alabama -- Mr. Barnes, through outstanding leadership and extraordinary efficiency in hurricane warning, preparedness, and planning, has provided life-saving services to the people of southern Alabama and southern Mississippi. He was instrumental in developing and implementing the disaster plans for parts of Alabama and Mississippi. His exceptional competence was dramatically demonstrated when Hurricane Frederic came ashore in the Mobile area on September 12, 1979. Hurricane Frederic was one of the strongest and costliest storms ever to hit the U. S. mainland, causing more than $2 billion in property damage. Several hundred thousand people moved to safety. The evacuation was part of advanced planning and preparedness activities among NWS officials at the state, county, and city levels of government. Hundreds of lives were undoubtedly saved as a direct result of Mr. Barnes’ successful efforts in effective preparedness planning.

1980 Silver Medal

Phyllis A. Polland, Pensacola, Florida -- Ms. Polland showed exceptional competence and outstanding abilities during an emergency when Hurricane Frederic headed directly toward the Pensacola area on September 12, 1979. In addition to her outstanding leadership of the Weather Service Office, Ms. Polland was largely responsible for the high degree of public awareness and the coordinated preparedness program in Escambia County, Florida. Throughout the hurricane and more than 24 hours in advance of the peak storm conditions, Ms. Polland kept safety authorities and the public fully informed of the storm’s progress and what actions to take. Those plans and actions were instrumental in the saving of many lives as Hurricane Frederic ravaged parts of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi.

1981 Gold Medal

Donal G. Davis, Grand Island, Nebraska -- Mr. Davis performed heroic actions involving jeopardy of life and demonstrated unusual competence in an extreme emergency on June 3, 1980, when tornadoes devastated wide areas of Grand Island, Nebraska. As Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weathe Service Office (WSO) in Grand Island, he was directly involved in issuing and disseminating tornado warnings and coordinating with local government safety officials. During the unusually prolonged period of nearly 3 hours that these dangerous storms threatened the citizens of Grand Island, the lives of the WSO staff, including Mr. Davis, were threatened, and, at one time, it was necessary for them to take cover at their work station. Despite continuing danger and the fact that he learned relatively early that his home had sustained tornado damage and his family had sustained some injuries, Mr. Davis continued to discharge his full responsibilities competently and effectively. His actions were acclaimed by his peers and he was given credit for saving many lives.

1981 Silver Medal

Gilbert B. Clark, Miami, Florida -- Mr. Clark is credited with saving hundreds of lives during the Cuban boat lift. On April 27,1980, he recognized that a dangerous squall line would be moving into an area containing hundreds of small boats overloaded with Cuban refugees. Anticipating the limited distribution any warning would receive, he sought help from local, Spanish-speaking radio stations and succeeded in establishing radio contact with Mariel Bay, Cuba. Even though he lacked the authority, he ordered the harbormaster at Mariel Bay to close the port and recall boats that had already departed. The Cuban authorities complied. A few small boats that didn’t receive the warning were swamped, and several people drowned. However, because of Mr. Clark’s actions a major marine disaster was averted.

1982 Silver Medal

James M. Leis, National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida -- Mr. Leis is cited for his unusual courage and competency during a fire at the National Hurricane Center. While working the midnight shift on August 14, 1981, Mr. Leis risked his life to disconnect a teletype machine which had caught fire. He had to grope among a maze of electrical wires covered with fire extinguisher foam in a smoke-filled room. His courageous action prevented the loss of the communications room and equipment, and possibly the complete National Hurricane Center operation at the peak of the hurricane season. In fact, within 3 days, Tropical Storm Dennis brought 20 inches of rain to the Miami area. Mr. Leis’ courageous action may have saved the lives of the other eight employees on duty as well as averting the potential loss of the National Hurricane Center.

Albert P. Shipe, Jr., National Weather Forecast Office -- Mr. Shipe has made valuable contributions to the mission of the National Weather Service by his demonstrated leadership in flood preparedness activities with NWS offices and other agencies. His outstanding abilities as an operational hydrologist were clearly demonstrated by his early flood outlooks and in concise and accurate flood warnings and statements he issued prior to the flooding that occurred in northern Indiana, and particularly at Fort Wayne, during March 1982. Millions of dollars in property damage losses in Fort Wayne were avoided by extensive sandbagging prompted, in part, by Mr. Shipe’s warnings. While national attention was focused on the Fort Wayne flooding, other rivers in northern Indiana were also overflowing, and Mr. Shipe was tirelessly issuing accurate flood information for the entire area.

Harold M. Gibson, Thomas C. Morgan, Edward Yandrich, Stanley J. Krowka, Thomas J. Grant, New York, New York -- Messrs. Gibson, Morgan, Yandrich, Krowka, and Grant, forecasters at the New York City Weather Forecast Office, are cited for their outstanding contributions toward the safety and well-being of the public before and after the rare spring blizzard that struck the northeastern States on April 5-7, 1982. The considerable potential of the record event was recognized 48 hours before the storm developed. Millions of people received the forecasters’ timely, accurate warnings of the unusual event. The situation was described to the public in a way that instilled confidence in the warnings and developed the desired awareness of the storm’s seriousness. This permitted action to be taken by the public so life-threatening conditions could be avoided and an untold number of lives saved.

Stephen F. Corfidi, John E. Hales, Jr., Horace R. Hudson, Jr., Robert H. Johns, Thomas S. Kasko, Larry F. Wilson, William K. Wolfe, Severe Storms Forecast Center, Kansas City -- Messrs. Corfidi, Hales, Hudson, Johns, Kasko, and Wolfe, forecasters in the Severe Local Storms Unit at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center at Kansas City, Missouri, are cited for their remarkable abilities and actions on April 2, 1982, when tornadoes and severe thunderstorms ravaged a 16-State area of the United States over a 12-hour period. It was the most widespread severe storm outbreak in recent history. The Unit has the national responsibility for forecasting tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. It is the first alert to the dangerous threats and sets the entire Nation’s warning system in motion. These forecasters’ incredibly accurate outlooks and specific forecasts beginning some 15 hours before the first major tornado are credited with the ultimate saving of many lives.

1984 Gold Medal

Steven W. Clark, James R. Smith [no location given on citation] -- Messrs. Clark and Smith on June 8, 1983, at great personal risk, saved the life of a helicopter pilot. When they heard a crash outside their office building and rushed to the scene, they found a helicopter on its side, fuel gushing from a severed fuel line, power still on, and a pilot trapped inside. While Mr. Clark sprayed the area with the weather station fire extinguisher, Mr. Smith pulled the trapped, badly injured pilot from the wreckage. After carrying the pilot to safety, they called for help from the nearest town and began applying first aid to the injured man. This spontaneous heroic action saved the pilot’s life. Performing under extreme duress, Messrs. Clark and Smith served their fellow man in the highest tradition of Government service.

1985 Silver Medal

William J. Alder, Utah-- Mr. Alder is recognized for outstanding technical ability, management skills, and professional courage before and during the 1983 and 1984 severe flooding in Utah. The minimal loss of life during the unprecedented spring floods and land failures was due in part to Mr. Alder’s work. His discerning analysis, months before, of potentially disastrous conditions set the stage for life-saving preparedness. This was followed by a personal campaign of agency contacts and media appearances, creating a public awareness of the developing threat, its uncertainty, and the need to prepare. During the disaster, Mr. Alder managed a most effective warning and advisory service while serving on numerous task forces and advising the Governor’s staff.

Charles D. Little, James M. Lowe, South Carolina -- Messrs. Little and Lowe are recognized for their outstanding initiative in radar echo interpretation, and for their decisive early actions in issuing tornado warnings to the people of South Carolina during the tornado outbreak on March 28, 1984. As a result of this outstanding team effort, many lives were saved. Killer tornadoes and numerous damaging thunderstorms swept through South Carolina in the most severe weather outbreak in 40 years. Messrs. Little and Lowe provided detailed, continuous surveillance and highly accurate warnings which allowed area residents to take prompt lifesaving action in preparing for these destructive storms. Although the storms were developing increasingly fast and moving very rapidly, the population received a warning of the first tornado 15 minutes before it actually touched down.

1987 Silver Medal

Daniel R. Mondella; William T. Knight; Mississippi -- Messrs. Mondella and Knight are cited for their quick and decisive actions to warn the people of Jones County, Mississippi, of an impending tornado disaster. This was the most severe tornado to strike the United States since 1985, devastating a huge area. The rapid and efficient advanced warning enabled officials and the public to take critical, life-saving actions. Earlier preparedness training to alert people to protective measures resulted in life-saving decisions.

1988 Silver Medal

Gerald S. French; Maine-- Mr. French’s accurate and timely forecasts prevented great loss of life and property in Maine during record-breaking flooding in April 1987. In spite of the complexities of this hydrometeorological event, enough time was provided for the evacuation of hundreds of people.

Robert C. Kilpatrick; Timothy E. Scrom; New York -- Messrs. Kilpatrick and Scrom are recognized for their outstanding weather forecast and warning service during prolonged rainfall in April 1987 which produced flood damage in excess of $60 million in New York. Five counties were declared disaster areas. Only 11 deaths were reported - 10 of those when a bridge collapsed. Their accurate and timely use and dissemination of data prevented an even greater loss of life and property from this complex hydrometeorological event.

1989 Silver Medal

Dennis M. Decker; North Carolina -- Mr. Decker is recognized for launching a comprehensive severe weather preparedness program in North Carolina following a disastrous tornado outbreak in 1984. He trained more than 3,500 volunteer severe weather spotters, including amateur radio Skywarn Networks. He provided severe weather safety information and conducted tornado drills in schools statewide. His work was cited as a major factor that contributed to the remarkably low death toll in the devastating tornado of November 28, 1988.

Dr. Robert C. Sheets; Robert A. Case; Gilbert B. Clark; Harold P. Gerrish; James M. Gross; Miles B. Lawrence; B. Max Mayfield; National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida -- Dr. Sheets and the NHC Hurricane Specialists are recognized for providing the Nation with one official source of continuous credible information during Hurricane Gilbert, the Atlantic Basin’s most powerful hurricane. Watches, warnings, and forecasts were posted with remarkable lead times and incredible accuracy. Four hundred and fifty television and radio interviews heightened public awareness. These actions enabled Texas emergency managers and coastal residents to rapidly respond to the threat.

William T. Shigehara; San Diego, California -- Mr. Shigehara is recognized for making outstanding contributions to the Weather Service mission of providing timely weather warnings for the protection of the agricultural industry of Southern California. He is especially recognized for his extraordinarily accurate long range freeze warnings in San Diego County during December 1987. These warnings provided farmers the time to adequately prepare for the record cold, thus avoiding an economic disaster that would have had National implications.

George W. Swearingen; Texas -- Mr. Swearingen is recognized for his actions in saving the lives of two men thrown from their boat on Palo Pinto Lake near Stephenville, Texas. Avoiding the unmanned boat which was circling the accident area under full power, he pulled the men from the water, saw to their safety, and then assisted the authorities in the recovery of a third boater who had drowned.

1990 Silver Medal

NWS Forecast Office, San Juan, Puerto Rico -- The National Weather Service Forecast Office (WSFO), in San Juan, Puerto Rico is recognized for distinguished, and at time, heroic service before, during, and immediately after the passage of Hurricane Hugo. Although Hugo caused enormous destruction of property throughout the area, the timely preparedness and warnings provided by the WSFO contributed to a remarkably low loss of life.

NWS Office, Charleston, South Carolina -- The National Weather Service Office (WSO) in Charleston, South Carolina is recognized for distinguished and heroic service before, during and after the passage of Hurricane Hugo in South Carolina. Although Hugo caused enormous destruction of property throughout the area, the timely observations and warnings provided by the WSO contributed to a remarkably low loss of life.

1995 Gold Medal

Dr. Lawrence B. Dunn; Graham E. Stork; Salt Lake City, Utah -- Dr. Dunn and Mr. Stork are recognized for heroic actions taken during the rescue of three skiers trapped by an avalanche in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah on February 12, 1995. Dr. Dunn directed the rescue efforts to free the first skier, dig out and stabilize the second injured skier and conduct a search to locate the third skier buried beneath the snow surface. He continued cardiopulmonary rescuscitation on the third skier for nearly two hours before medical help arrived. Unfortunately, the third skier died from his injuries. At the same time, Mr. Stork skied over dangerous terrain for more than two miles to notify rescue officials and secure medical assistance.

1996 Silver Medal

National Weather Service, Eastern Region -- The NWS Eastern Region (NWS ER) is recognized for exceptional forecasting skill and dedication to duty during the blizzard of January 1996. As early as January 4, long before the first snow flake fell, NWS ER offices alerted the populace to the impending blizzard. States of emergency were declared from North Carolina to Massachusetts, west to Ohio, mobilizing snow removal equipment and allowing cities to maintain vital emergency, fire and ambulance services. Such preparations saved countless lives and shortened recovery times and reduced financial losses. The NWS ER personnel distinguished themselves not only by reporting to work each day during the governmentwide shut down, but by braving the elements to reach their jobs during life-threatening conditions.

NWS Southeast River Forecast Center -- The staff of the Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC) is recognized for providing timely and accurate river forecast service during the flooding and heavy rains associated with tropical storm Alberto in July 1994. Throughout the storm, the staff worked tirelessly around the clock to provide forecasts, advisories, and warnings. The dedication and professionalism of the staff was instrumental in minimizing the loss of life and property.

1996 Bronze Medal

Ralph A. Estell, Jr., Salt Lake City, Utah -- For courageous actions
rescuing passengers from a train crash in Ely, Nevada at great personal risk on June 17, 1995. Mr. Estell was one of the first responders at the site of a collision between a run away car full of railroad ties and an restored steam engine with three cars full of nearly 100 tourists and 15 crew members. He volunteered to crawl under the severely damaged engine to dump the coal fire into the ash bin, thus preventing the boiler from exploding. After securing the engine, he assisted in the extrication, treatment and evacuation of over a dozen seriously injured passengers and crew members, carrying them over 150 yards of rough terrain to the nearest road. Due in part to his exceptional actions, no loss of life accrued.

1997 Silver Medal

NWS Eastern North Dakota Office; Central River Forecast Center -- The NWS Eastern North Dakota Office and the North Central River Forecast Center are recognized for competence and courage in protecting the life and property of the public during the Red River Flood of 1997. Through river forecasts, flood warnings, statements and interviews, the staff of these offices provided six weeks lead time for flood preparedness. As a result of their dedication, no lives were lost and many towns were spared the devastation of the flood.

NWS Ohio River Forecast Center; NEXRAD Weather Service Office, Eastern Region -- The Ohio River Forecast Center and the NEXRAD Weather Service Office, Eastern Region are recognized for providing flash flood and river flood warnings, river forecast guidance, and hydrologic support during the March 1997, Ohio Valley flood. These highly accurate, lifesaving warnings provided citizens time to evacuate Falmouth, Kentucky in anticipation of a record crest on the Licking River, and allowed citizens to prepare for flood levels on the Ohio River not seen in 33 years.

NWS Forecast Office, Southern Region -- The National Weather Service Forecast Office, Southern Region is recognized for providing accurate and timely weather warnings during the severe weather outbreak in Arkansas on March 1, 1997. The staff effectively applied new technological tools at their disposal to alert emergency management officials of the impending severe weather threat and subsequently provided critical weather warnings as severe weather and tornadoes developed..

1998 Gold Medal

National Weather Service Office, Melbourne, Florida -- The NWS Office Melbourne, Florida is honored for advancing state-of-the-art in operational application of tornado detection technology during the most devastating tornado outbreak in Florida’s history on February 22-23, 1998. Warnings were issued with 100 percent accuracy and lead times twice the national average, saving many lives. This effort quantitatively validated the goal of significantly improving short-term warnings in the Department’s Strategic Plan. Positive news stories of their performance brought attention to the NOAA Weather Radio Program, providing an opportunity for NWS offices around the Nation to showcase this outstanding program. Their operational research significantly advanced the understanding of Florida tornado outbreaks and the effects of El Nino.

1998 Silver Medal

NWS Forecast Office Portland, Maine; NWS Office, Burlington, Vermont -- The NWS Forecast Office, Portland, Maine and NWS Office Burlington, Vermont are recognized for exceptional services to the public and emergency managers during the worst ice storm this century that struck northern New England and upstate New York on January 7-9, 1998. In spite of personal hardships, the NWS employees reported to duty around the clock, often at great personal risk, to provide essential services without interruption.

1999 Gold Medal

NWSFO Norman, Oklahoma -- The National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWSFO) in Norman, Oklahoma, is cited for life-saving services provided during and prior to an outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes which struck central Oklahoma on May 3, 1999. In the months prior to the outbreak, the Norman office conducted an agressive program of weather preparedness activities to educate the public on methods to protect themselves during severe weather. The Norman office was successful in giving the public significant advance warning of individual tornadoes and specific information which was credited with saving many lives.

1999 Silver Medal

NWSFO Memphis, Tennessee; NWSFO Little Rock, Arkansas -- The NWS Forecast Office, Memphis, Tennessee and the NWS Forecast Office, Little Rock, Arkansas are recognized for providing numerous accurate and timely sever weather warnings during an unprecedented outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes in central and northeast Arkansas, western Tennessee, and northern Mississippi, during the week of January 17, 1999. These two NWS Offices contributed directly to saving many lives despite the unprecedented nature of the sever weather outbreak at a time of the year when severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are not expected in either Arkansas or Tennessee.

NWSFO Sioux Falls, South Dakota -- The NWS Forecast Office, Sioux Falls, South Dakota is honored for life-saving efforts during the devastating tornado which virtually destroyed the entire community of Spencer, South Dakota on May 30, 1998. The community of Spencer, South Dakota, was literally wiped off the map by a violent F4 tornado. The tornado killed six people, injured nearly half of the town’s 320 residents, and destroyed all but a few of Spencer’s 190 buildings. The timely warnings issued by NWSFO Sioux Falls provided valuable lead time for people to seek protective shelter, minimizing fatalities despite the near total destruction of the town.

NWSFO Tulsa, Oklahoma; NWSFO Wichita, Kansas -- The NWS Forecast Office, Tulsa, Oklahoma and the NWS Forecast Office Wichita, Kansas are recognized for unusual creativity, innovation, and skill in overcoming a number of technological challenges while providing critical weather forecast and warning services to the citizens of southeast Kansas, eastern Oklahoma, and northwest Arkansas. On May 3-4, 1999, numerous tornadoes, severe storms, and major flash flooding hit the region resulting in property losses in excess of $150 million and the loss of six lives. Their agressive use of modernized technologies was instrumental in preserving the public’s safety during this severe weather.

2000 Gold Medal

Hydrometeorological Prediction Center; NWSFO Newport, North Carolina; NWSFO Wakefield, Virginia; NWSFO Raleigh, North Carolina; NWSFO Wilmington, North Carolina; Southeast River Forecast Center -- The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, NWS Forecast Offices in Raleigh, North Carolina; Wilmington, North Carolina; Newport, North Carolina; Wakefield, Virginia and the Southeast River Forecast Center are recognized for their efforts in the early recognition of the disastrous impacts of Hurricane Floyd. Through pro-active internal and external coordination, and the issuance of timely and accurate products, they alerted emergency management officials and the public to historic inland flooding , saving countless lives.

2000 Silver Medal

Weather Forecast Office, Corpus Christi, Texas -- The Weather Forecast Office (WFO), Corpus Christi, Texas is recognized for life-saving services before, during, and after Hurricane Bret struck the south Texas coast on August 22, 1999. The WFO skillfully employed modernized technology while issuing over 150 hurricane-related, life-saving products. Months before the event, they conducted vital hurricane preparedness presentations and drills to increase public awareness and strengthen partner relationships. Although Bret was a category 4 storm, no lives were lost even though it was the only hurricane to affect south Texas in 20 years.

Weather Forecast Office, Fort Worth, Texas -- The Weather Forecast Office (WFO), Fort Worth, Texas is recognized for providing life-saving services prior to and during an outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes which struck parts of north Texas on March 28, 2000. The severe weather outbreak across parts of north Texas produced eight tornadoes, including two strong tornadoes near Fort Worth. The tornadoes killed two people, destroyed 171 homes and damaged 1,500 others. The storm damage was estimated at $450 million. The effectiveness of both the warnings and the community preparedness can be measured by the incredibly small loss of life, even though the tornadoes struck a densely populated urban area.

Weather Forecast Office, Paducah, Kentucky -- The Weather Forecast Office (WFO), Paducah, Kentucky is honored for life-saving meteorological warning services provided to the citizens of Owensboro, Kentucky, prior to and during a devastating F3 tornado on January 3, 2000. The tornado, which laid down a path of destruction seven miles in length and a half mile wide, directly struck Owensboro, injuring eighteen, damaging 1200 homes and businesses and causing $64 million dollars in damage. The timely and accurate warnings provided valuable lead time for people to seek protective shelter, saving many lives.

Weather Forecast Office, Tallahassee, Florida -- The Weather Forecast Office (WFO), Tallahassee, Florida is recognized for life-saving efforts prior to and during an outbreak of severe weather and tornadoes across southwest Georgia on the night of February 13-14, 2000. Three deadly tornadoes swept across southwest Georgia killing eighteen, injuring 200, nearly destroying 300 homes and causing an estimated $25 million in damages. The warning lead times were absolutely crucial to saving lives because the tornadoes occurred during the late night and early morning hours, when most residents in the paths of the storms were asleep.

Publication of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NOAA Central Library.
Last Updated: June 8, 2006 9:27 AM

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