Valor awards well-earned, much deserved

Published 7:16 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

On Friday morning, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce presented the valor awards, which go to first responders within our county.

The awards are meant to recognize the men and women who oversee public safety and often put their own lives in danger to perform the duties of their job. The awards recognized people from all corners of the county — from the Troup County Sheriff’s Office to the Hogansville, West Point and LaGrange Police and Fire Departments — and gave chamber members a few hours to thank our law enforcement officers and other public safety officials. There was a lot of applause Friday, but there really can never be enough.

Some of our officers have been injured on the job, such as Troup County Sheriff’s Deputy Stephanie Masuoka, who was assisting with a traffic accident on I-85 northbound earlier this year when a tractor trailer hit the truck she was standing near.

She was the winner of the 2017 Purple Heart Award. Masuoka plans to return to work soon, undeterred by her injuries.  Sheriff Deputy Michael Hockett received the Bronze Medal of Valor after being shot several times by a suspect in West Point.

These are just a few examples of the bravery shown by first responders in our community. Others lead by staying calm, such as Melody Swanson, a dispatcher who didn’t panic as Hockett was shot by a suspect. She called additional units to the scene and kept everyone up to date on what was going on — all while keeping a professional demeanor in a high stress situation.

There aren’t many people that could handle those kinds of situations.

Every week we try to inform the community about the work of our law enforcement officers, fire fighters and ambulance workers through our first responder of the week, a feature we enjoy writing immensely. Next week, we’ll expand on that a bit when we print our Super Hero Spotlight special section, which will feature first responders from around the county. The section will include multiple stories that we hope will allow the community to get to know these brave men and women a little bit better. Congratulations to all of Friday’s winners and a big thank you to all of the men and women who serve as a first responder around the county.