Fireman of the Year
Robert E. Johnston, Ill, a member of the District of Columbia Fire Department, was named “National Fire Fighter of the Year” by the National Association of Mutual Insurance Agents (NAMIA).
The award, plus a $100 savings bond was given by NAMIA in conjunction with the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
In presenting the award, Morris V. Spicci, president of the host Virginia-D.C. agents’ association, cited Private Johnston as “an outstanding example of a dedicated fire fighter whose service has been above and beyond the call of duty.”
NAMIA’s national award culminates a week of local recognition for Private Johnston. He was cited by President Gerald Ford in ceremonies at the White House. Later, at the Washington Board of Trade’s Heroes Luncheon, Johnston was one of several firemen and policemen to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from D.C. Mayor Walter E. Washington.
On January 19, 1974 Private Johnston responded with Truck Co. 3 to a burning apartment building at 1223 12th St., N.W. He climbed to the third floor and carried an invalid man and his wife down the fire escape. He later returned to the building to save a man confined to a wheelchair.
The following night, Johnston was detailed to Truck Co. 5 which responded to a blaze in the 2300 block of 39th St., Glover Park. Learning that a seven-month-old child was trapped on the second floor, Johnston rushed into the burning building without waiting for the protective cover of a hose line and searched the house on his hands and knees until he found the baby’s crib. He brought the unconscious child to safety and administered mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until it recovered.
Similar acts of heroism have earned Johnston the Bronze Bar for Rescue in 1973, the Kiwanis “Bravest” Award, and an Oxon Hill Boys’ Club award. During his off hours, he is a volunteer fire fighter in his hometown of Oxon Hill, Md.