Two honored with Medals of Valor for heroism, one posthumously
SACRAMENTO – The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation today awarded Medals of Valor to the late Correctional Lieutenant Ronald Rowlett of the California Medical Facility and Correctional Officer Sheila Mitchell of California State Prison-Sacramento. The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award for heroism and courage beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The awards were presented by CDCR Secretary James Tilton and Undersecretary K.W. Prunty at a ceremony on the West Steps of the State Capitol. Nearly 150 employees received awards that ranged from the Medal of Valor to Unit Citations.
The combined honor guards of California State Prison, Sacramento, and Folsom State Prison as well as the color guard of the Preston Youth Correctional Facility presented the colors. In memory of Lt. Rowlett and others from the CDCR who died over the last year, the honor and color guards played taps and gave a flag ceremony. It ended with the presentation of an American flag to Mrs. Rowlett.
The Medal of Valor is “earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.”
Lt. Rowlett was vacationing in Hawaii in February 2005 when he heard the cries of help from a woman on a flotation device. She was being dragged out to sea by rip currents that were estimated swells between 20 and 30 feet. Without fear or hesitation, he entered the treacherous waters in an attempt to save her life. Unfortunately, the rip currents overtook him in his attempt, ultimately resulting in his death.
“Lt. Rowlett’s act of heroism exemplifies the honor and dedication he presented as a public servant and proud peace officer for more than 20 years,” Tilton said. “He was not the only person on the beach that day who heard the cries for help. But in the end, it was only he and the woman’s husband who entered the waters—both sacrificing their lives for her.”
Officer Mitchell working at the prison last May when an inmate working in the culinary unit held her hostage at knifepoint. As responding staff arrived, they saw the inmate holding a homemade slashing weapon to her neck, threatening to kill her. The inmate gained control of Officer Mitchell’s keys and pulled her into a nearby office. He locked the door from the inside, barricading it and turning out the light.
“Never losing her calm demeanor in the face of possible death, Officer Mitchell was taken hostage for more than 10 hours,” said Tilton. “Her strength of spirit, bravery, courage, composure and professionalism throughout the long and traumatic day was the key factor in her release and the inmate’s surrender.”
Also honored at today’s ceremony were Correctional Lieutenant Kenneth Daubach from Centinela State Prison as the 2007 Correctional Supervisor of the Year, and Correctional Officer John Edward Popke from Sierra Conservation Center. The awards ceremony, held annually in May, honors employees from throughout California. The ceremony was followed by a luncheon for awardees, their families and friends on the West Lawn, and sponsored by the California Correctional Supervisors Organization.
Complete List of 2007 Award Winners
Medal of Valor
The Medal of Valor is the Department’s highest award, earned by employees distinguishing themselves by conspicuous bravery or heroism above and beyond the normal demands of correctional service. The employee shall display great courage in the face of immediate life-threatening peril and with full knowledge of the risk involved. The act should show professional judgment and not jeopardize operations or the lives of others.
Correctional Lieutenant Ronald Rowlett, California Medical Facility (Posthumous); Correctional Officer Sheila Mitchell, California State Prison, Sacramento
Gold Star Medal
The Corrections Star (Gold) medal is the Department’s second highest award for heroic deeds under extraordinary circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of immediate peril in acting to save the life of another person.
Correctional Sergeant Rick Mullins and Correctional Counselor I Jo-Ella Mullins, California Institution for Men; Fire Captain Dan Smith, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; and Correctional Officer Robert Paris, California State Prison, Sacramento
Silver Star Medal
The Corrections Star (Silver) medal is the Department’s third highest award for acts of bravery under extraordinary or unusual circumstances. The employee shall display courage in the face of potential peril while saving or attempting to save the life of another person or distinguish himself or herself by performing in stressful situations with exceptional tactics or judgment.
Correctional Officer Keith Logan, California State Prison, Sacramento; Correctional Officer Jimmy Trujillo, Centinela State Prison; and Correctional Officer Ray Torrez, Sierra Conservation Center
Bronze Star Medal
The Corrections Star (Bronze) is the Department’s award for saving a life without placing oneself in peril. The employee shall have used proper training and tactics in a professional manner to save, or clearly contribute to saving, the life of another person.
Correctional Lieutenant William Wyman, California Correctional Center; Medical Technical Assistant Eric Callison, High Desert State Prison; Correctional Sergeant Bryan Colvin, California State Prison, Sacramento; Correctional Officer Raymond Din III, Centinela State Prison; Correctional Sergeant Christopher Pierce, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; Correctional Officer Johnie Saucier, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; Correctional Sergeant Herbert HuiHui and Correctional Officer Mike Deverick, Correctional Training Facility; Correctional Sergeant Arnold Leon, Ironwood State Prison; Correctional Officers Scott Buck, Rene Cortina and Casey Fenton, Kern Valley State Prison; Youth Correctional Counselors Kevin Cerniglia, Claudia Chavez, Fernando Flores and John Younger; Youth Correctional Officer Gabriel Flores; Registered Nurse Doreen Alvarez, N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility; Correctional Lieutenant Troy Wood and Correctional Officer Kennith Trimm, Pelican Bay State Prison; Correctional Officer Paul Rivera, Salinas Valley State Prison; Correctional Officers Jose Santiago and Anthony Sotelo, Salinas Valley State Prison; Correctional Counselor I Steve Ballachey, San Quentin State Prison; Correctional Officer Brandon Freemyer, Sierra Conservation Center; Correctional Officer Andy Ralph Thomas, Valley State Prison for Women; and Teacher Calvin B. Moppins, Jr., O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility
stinguished Service Medal
The Distinguished Service Medal is for an employee’s exemplary work conduct with the Department for a period of months or years, or involvement in a specific assignment of unusual benefit to the Department.
Correctional Sergeant Wesley Lewis, California State Prison, Sacramento; Vice Principal, Vocational Programs Ruth Davis, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; Vice Principal, Academic Programs, Kenya Williams, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; Correctional Plant Manager II Lee Lanahan, Chuckawalla Valley State Prison; Youth Correctional Officers Jeff Moen, Paul Castro and Kevin Steel, Northern California Youth Correctional Center; and Special Agent Martin R. Davila, Office of Correctional Safety.
The Unit Citation is for great courage displayed by a departmental unit in the course of conducting an operation in the face of immediate life-threatening circumstances.
Correctional Sergeant John Perry Mayhew Jr.; Correctional Officers Wilberto Almodovar Jr., Jeffrey Gaskin, Charles Edward King Jr., Grant Elton Parker, Daniel Flores Rodriguez, and Chris Bruce Wuest; Correctional Lieutenants James Broddrick, Jeri Fry, and Tom Langford; Correctional Sergeants John Heckman, Brian Holmes, and Kevin Renkert; Correctional Officers Kenneth Ian Meadows, Wade Critz and Anthony McNeal, Folsom State Prison; Correctional Sergeants David Rios, Brian Colvin, Jon Clough, Roy Dickinson, Charlie Gibson, Keith Logan, Nate Costa, Avery Lanigan, Bryan Bishop, Roy Ulatan, and John McCoy; Correctional Officers Keith Logan, Robbi Geyser, and Jack Hansen, Correctional Captain Debra Leiber; Correctional Lieutenants John Banks and Sol Goldman; Correctional Sergeants Dennis Kennedy, Tina Ybarra, and Bryan Bishop; Correctional Officers Billy Deaver, Jack L. Hansen, Kenneth Lamphere, Ruby Mahan, Kelly Porter, Tim Gomez Jr., George Moua, Bret Cross, Celso Zamudio Jr., Tony Hom, Alan Shearer, Thomas Angello, Brian McCauley, Juan Munoz, Allan May, Miguel Martinez, James Mathews, Bill Hampton, Richard Merriweather, Kenneth Stears, Ernest Johnson, Glenn Branich, Stephen Camarillo, Machelle Calderon, Clarence Callahan, Steve Larios, John Lebeck, Michael Alcoriza, Marcus Magnani, Daniel Garland, Elizabeth Alejo, Ruben Jordan, Rickey Moore, Keith Yeager, Derral Sheldon, William Nunez, Pete Ugalino, David Matthews, Carlos Chavez, Kris DeAlba, Joseph Polich, David Peterson, Coby O’Hagan, Michael Munguia, David Villasenor, Daniel Sherven, Raul Macias, Jarvis Quenga, Jahmal Prudhomme, Carolina Lobato, and Donald Mandell, Brian Westmoreland, California State Prison, Sacramento; Correctional Officers Manuel Tamayo, Evaristo Duarte and Vincent Canada, Calipatria State Prison; Correctional Sergeant William Fletcher; Correctional Officers Terry Hammon, Raul Ramirez, Craig Robertson, Armondo Sosa, and Diego Vaca, Ironwood State Prison; Correctional Sergeant Kurtis B. Weatherford; Correctional Officers Scott Buck, Rene Cortina, Casey Fenton, Martin E. Machado, Robert A. Nuckles and Fidencio R. Venegas, Kern Valley State Prison; Correctional Lieutenants Dana Kays, Joe Pedroso, and Daryl Webster; Correctional Sergeants Joseph Anderson, Donald Coleman, Paul Hicks Sr., David Johnston, Carol McKellop, Anthony Pepiot, and Manuel Winningham; Correctional Officers Peggy Anderson, Benjamin Aragones, Johnny Atchinson, Dameon Bates, James Bemrose, Jason Biberston, Wendy Black, Sean Burris, Tyler Chapman, David Chisholm, James Commons, Una Cooper, Neil Cope, Gregory Darrett, Paul Gelinas, David George, John Gephart, Christopher Hamilton, Rudy Hammack, James Harlan, Paul Harman, James Herdina, P. Herman, James Holden, Robert Hood, David Howard, Mark Hutchinson, Thomas Hutzell, Karl Kiplinger, Charles Leveque, Darrell Love, Jeremy Marks, John Miller, Michael Nation, Daniel Nelson, Russ Olson, Arthur Paul, Alexandra Perez, David Phillips, Michael Popow, Phillip Reynolds, Jerry Reynoso, Keith Richcreek, Joseph Ross, John Rutledge, Marcus Sawaya, John Shaw, Michael Slavec, Jeffrey Stout, Lawrence Sullenger, and Scott Wilson; Medical Technical Assistants Victorio Gorospe, Rebecca Lambert, Crystal Martinho, James Patch, Christine Richcreek, and Jodi Torrance; Registered Nurses Joseph Escobar-Jerez and James Phillips; Psychiatric Technician Ian Kirkpatrick; Licensed Vocational Nurse Elizabeth Scott, Pelican Bay State Prison; and Registered Nurses Myra Luna, Tae Moon, and Jennifer Parker; Psychiatric Technician Jeovani Pajo, Heman G. Stark Youth Correctional Facility.
Correctional Officer of the Year is Correctional Officer John Edward Popke from Sierra Conservation Center, and Correctional Supervisor of the Year is Kenneth Wayne Daubach, Centinela State Prison.