Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today congratulated New York Army National Guard Sergeant Martin Gonzalez who was awarded the New York State Medal of Valor, the states most prestigious military award.
To view photos of the award ceremony, go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nyng/sets/72157637803629633/with/10925450185/.
Gonzalez received the award during a ceremony on Sunday at Camp Smith, the National Guard training center near Peekskill. Col. Reginald Sanders, the commander of the 369th Sustainment Brigade, presented the award.
On behalf of all New Yorkers, I congratulate Police Officer Martin Gonzalez for receiving the prestigious New York State Medal of Valor, Governor Cuomo said. Our National Guard men and women serve their communities both in and out of uniform, and Officer Gonzalezs heroic actions in the face of danger helped save two men in his community. He is wholly deserving of this recognition by the New York Army National Guard, and we thank him for his service.
The award recognizes Gonzalezs heroic actions in his civilian role as a police officer in the Village of Liberty Police Department in October 2011. While the Medal of Valor is a military award, it can be granted for valor, heroism, courage, or gallantry displayed by a National Guard member in either a civilian or military capacity.
On October 5, 2011, Gonzalez and two other Liberty police officers responded when a gas station that was under construction collapsed on two workers. Gonzalez, who was then a member of the 727nd Military Police Law and Order Detachment in Kingston, and the other two officers rushed into the collapsing structure, despite the risk to themselves, to rescue and begin medical treatment of the two men.
According to his citation, Gonzalez not only entered the building without any thought for his own safety, but also stayed inside the building even after emergency medical personnel arrived to assist in treating one of the trapped construction workers.
Although the incident occurred while Gonzalez was serving in his civilian capacity, his military superiors felt his actions demonstrated his outstanding qualities and recommended him for the state military award.
He and the other police officers involved in the incident were also recognized for their service by the Village of Liberty with a meritorious service award.
Gonzalez, who spent nine years in the Army National Guard, is currently enrolled in the Inactive National Guard, a temporary non-duty status for Guard members who want to continue their military service but need to focus on their civilian education or career for a period of time.
A resident of Woodburn, Gonzalez is now serving in the Fallsburg Police Department.