ILWACO — The American Legion honored 11 members of Pacific County’s first responders during the 32nd Annual Derald D. Robertson Safety Awards.
Held on Wednesday Oct. 23 at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum the awards recognized safety officers and their families for their work protecting communities. The night also offered a chance for a nice piece of tri-tip.
“Real good, very good meal,” said Flint Wright, Long Beach chief of police.
The Illwaco High School Jazz Band played in the lobby as people arrived. Honorees at the event have the potential to be recognized nationally by the American Legion, said Teresa Bryan, Vice Commander for Area II. The American Legion National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award is presented to a law enforcement officer who has “exceeded the duty requirements expected of his or her position and demonstrated a distinct pattern of community coupled with professional achievement.” The award is presented at the legion’s national convention in July.
Firefighter of the Year
Pacific County Fire District No. 1 honored Firefighter Richard Schatz.
Fire Chief Jacob Brundage said Schatz responded to more than 100 incidents and attended more than 150 training hours in 2019.
“Richard is continuously pushing himself to improve his own skills and confidence as an emergency responder. It is because of Richard’s personal commitment to be the best responder, help others meet their goals, and give selflessly that I nominate him for this award,” Brundage said.
The Long Beach Fire Department honored Firefighter Travis Wright.
Fire Chief Matt Bonney said Wright’s nomination was noteworthy as it was his first year on the job.
“Travis is coachable, patient, and helpful to his fellow firefighters and his demeanor is that of a seasoned veteran of the industry. He is a breed of person that our community and our nation needs more than ever,” Bonney said.
Police Officer of the Year
The Long Beach Police Department honored Officer Mike Parker.
Police Chief Flint Wright said he was torn when it came to nominating Parker. Parker and his partner, Officer Josh Lefor, dedicated countless hours to investigating drug cases in the community since the spring of 2018. When Parker asked the chief if he could focus on the drug issue, Wright told him it would have to be in his off hours and in addition to his regular duties. Parker took on the challenge and the city was able to find funds to pay Parker and Lefor overtime for the work they did.
“He went without sleep, because drug dealers don’t keep “bankers hours” and did not live a normal life during that year. I highly suspect that Officer Parker never put in for all the hours of overtime he actually worked. He did this while still working shifts as a patrol officer.
“His hard work and sacrifice paid off with the arrest of 10 suspects,” Wright said.
Parker thanked Wright and Long Beach Mayor Jerry Phillips for their support.
Trooper of the Year
The Washington State Patrol honored Jacobe A. Conrad.
Sgt. Bradford A. Moon said Conrad’s hard work is measurable in statistics, with Conrad accounting for 94 percent of the Naselle detachment’s illicit drug arrests in the past 12 months. And in addition, on Sept. 6, Conrad helped to save the life of a man who suicide. Moon remembered arriving on scene and seeing Conrad already stuffing gauze into the man’s neck wound. When he saw Moon, he called for more gauze from Moon’s vest.
“Several officers and the emergency doctor credited Trooper Conrad with his life-saving efforts in saving the gravely injured male, who miraculously ended up recovering from his wounds,” Moon said.
Officers of the Year
The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office honored four of its deputies; Sgt. Jon Ashley, Deputy Ryley Queener, Deputy Tony Kimball and Deputy Ben Woodby.
These deputies responded to the same call as Conrad and in the face of the man’s request for the deputies shoot him, the officers managed to get the man aid without escalating the situation, said Robin Souvenir, Pacific County Sheriff.
“The amount of professional restraint in this deadly use of force situation that the deputies and officers displayed is insurmountable,” Souvenir said.
The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife honored Officer Paul Jacobson.
State Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Ryan John called Jacobson an irreplaceable part of the force, not just for his work arresting individuals but for his dedication to helping the community. Every officer in the area is happy to hear his call sign headed their way, John said. And Jacobson is known to more than just law enforcement.
“Very few bears fail to tum and trot away when they see this big man coming for them,” John said.
Enlisted Person of the Year
The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Cape Disappointment honored Petty Officer 2nd Class MK2 Michael Innis.
Innis’ nomination letter, written on behalf of Coast Guard Lt. Jessica Shafer, highlighted how Innis’ worked to maintain the coast guard facilities in addition to his other duties. And noted how he helped stabilize and hoist an injured crew member from a recreational vessel that ran aground at full speed.
“MK2 Michael Innis is a consummate professional. He has been a leader and an example both on and off duty,” Shafer’s letter said.
Auxiliarist of the Year
The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 06-02 honored Auxiliarist Della Kay Wilson.
Wilson helped to create and organize a docent program for Cape Disappointment said Ronald L. Hilburger, Flotilla 06-02 Commander. She has trained three new docents and assembled a 36-page docent guide.
And on many occasions she volunteered at the Auxiliary’s public affairs booths and public education classes.
“Della has shown exceptional dedication to the Auxiliary and its mission to promote and improve recreational boating safety,” Hilburger said.
Elected officials Pacific County Commissioner Lisa Olsen and Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, congratulated the honorees and presented the awards.
The awards began in 1988 and are named for the commander that helped establish the event. More than 100 people have been honored since.