The late Firefighter Derek D. Martin of the St. Louis (MO) Fire Department was named the recipient of the 2003 Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award. His widow, Angela Jeanine Martin, accepted the award at FDIC 2003.
Firefighter Martin, 38, died of injuries sustained while attempting to rescue his colleague, 38-year-old Captain Robert Bruce Morrison of Rescue Company 1, during a fire at the Gravois Refrigeration Company in St. Louis on May 3, 2002. In accepting the Courage and Valor Medal and cash award of $25,000 on behalf of her husband, Mrs. Martin noted: “Derek loved the fire department and his job, but he loved the Lord and his family more. We miss him so much. Each day is a struggle.” Firefighter Martin left behind also three children: 14-year-old Jordan, 12-year-old Denzel, and 4-year-old Kayla.
Robert F. Biolchini, chief executive officer of PennWell Corporation and founder of the Ray Downey Courage and Valor award and the not-for-profit Courage and Valor Foundation, which funds the award, and Battalion Chief Joe Downey and Captain Chuck Downey of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), sons of Ray Downey, whom the award honors, presented the award to Mrs. Martin.
Chief Downey and Captain Downey were among the members of the committee that selected the award winner. Choosing a winner was difficult, they said, because “there were many nominees who displayed great courage and valor in the line of duty.” On behalf of the Downey family, and especially his mother, Rosalie, Captain Downey thanked PennWell, Fire Engineering, and the fire service members in the audience “for keeping my father’s memory alive.”
“As you know, acts of courage and bravery happen every day in the fire service. It is part of what defines your greatness,” Biolchini told the audience. “But as far as you push yourselves to protect and rescue people in trouble, you accept no limits when it comes to protecting and rescuing one of your own; it is indeed an extraordinary, special act.”
The Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award was established in 2001, after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), to honor firefighters for meritorious service in the line of duty. The award, presented annually at the FDIC, honors the memory of Deputy Chief Ray Downey of FDNY, who perished along with 342 other FDNY firefighters at the WTC. Downey was the most highly decorated firefighter in FDNY’s history and an internationally renowned rescue expert.
Other Selection Committee members included representatives from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the National Fire Academy Alumni Association.
For more information on the Ray Downey Courage and Valor award, visit www.courageandvalor.com.