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2014 NALC Heroes honored

On Sept. 10, NALC President Fredric Rolando served as master of ceremonies for the 2014 National Heroes of the Year Awards.

The annual ceremony, this year held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, recognizes men and women who not only deliver the mail to 150 million households and businesses six days a week, but often assist in situations involving accidents, fires, crimes or health crises.

The heroes represent thousands of letter carriers who more than deliver the mail. This year’s honorees were:

National Hero of the Year: Jermaine Shirley of Greenwich, CT Branch 759, a city carrier assistant who smelled smoke in an apartment building one morning, alerted residents and caught two young children thrown to him as fire engulfed the building.

Eastern Region Hero: Robert George of Worcester, MA Branch 12, an Air Force veteran who pulled a driver to safety before the man’s crashed truck burst into flames.

Central Region Hero: Jim Rurik of Columbus, OH Branch 78, who smothered the burning clothes of a fire victim with his postal jacket, then evacuated all residents of that victim’s burning building.

Western Region Hero: Steve Filson of Central Oregon Branch 1937, a Navy veteran who saved the life of a man suffering heart failure.

Unit Citation Award: Cristy Perfetti and Steve Plunkett of Peoria, IL Branch 31, who, with help from their supervisor, rescued a boy who had been abducted at knife point, brought him to safety in their post office and trailed the suspect, who had prior convictions for crimes against children and was sentenced to life in prison.

Branch Service Award: Reading, PA Branch 258, whose members have been brightening families’ Christmases for more than a decade. Each year, the branch collects money from postal workers, carriers, clerks and managers, and sponsors up to three families.

Humanitarian of the Year: Orlando Gonzalez of New York City Branch 36, a Region 15 regional administrative assistant who organized the annual “Vinny’s Walk” of letter carriers to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Legacy Award: Victor Green, a member of Hackensack, NJ Branch 425 (now Bergen County Merged), who helped a generation of black Americans travel safely and without humiliation in pre-civil-rights-era America by publishing what was known as the “Green Book,” an annual travel guide to inns and private homes that accepted African-Americans. Green died in 1960.

Members of the honorees’ families and representatives from their NALC branches attended the ceremony, along with NALC national officers and staff, representatives from other postal unions, the Postal Service, the Postal Regulatory Commission, and invited guests from other labor unions and the mailing industry. Those delivering remarks at the event were Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA), Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Rep. José Serrano (D-NY), AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Shuler and USPS Vice President for Labor Relations Doug Tulino.

The 2014 NALC Heroes of the Year (from l): Steve Plunkett and Cristy Perfetti, Peoria, IL Branch 31, Unit Citation Award; Region 15 Regional Administrative Assistant Orlando Gonzalez, Humanitarian of the Year; Reading, PA Branch President Fred Ranalli, Branch Service Award; Jermaine Shirley, Greenwich, CT Branch 759, National Hero of the Year; Jim Rurik, Columbus, OH Branch 78, Central Region Hero; Robert George, Worcester, MA Branch 12, Eastern Region Hero; and Steve Filson, Central Oregon Branch 1937, Western Region Hero.