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East Wayne FD’s Ryan Sprunger awarded Medal of Valor at White House



East Wayne Fire District member Ryan Sprunger received the Medal of Valor Monday at the White House from President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., for his actions at the end of 2019 to rescue a grandfather and his two grandsons from an icy pond on a family farm in Sugar Creek Township. 

DGKN staff report

An East Wayne Fire District member’s brave and quick action to rescue a grandfather and two children from an icy Sugar Creek Township pond was recognized Monday at the White House.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., awarded May 16 the Medal of Valor to 15 public safety officers, including two officers who died in the line of duty, during a ceremony in the East Room. These awards are for acts of bravery in eight different incidents during the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 award cycles. Nine police officers and six firefighters received the award for acts of bravery in the line of duty, according to a release at

The Medal of Valor is awarded to public safety officers who have exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect others from harm.

Recipients of the 2019-2020 Class include East Wayne Fire District Assistant Chief Ryan Sprunger who was off duty when he responded to a call about several individuals who fell into a frozen pond, the release states. Without any thermal protection, and equipped with nothing but a throw rope, Sprunger jumped into the freezing water to rescue the victims – a grandfather and his two grandchildren. He pulled the grandfather and one child out, and guided medics who arrived to the second child – demonstrating extraordinary courage to save lives.

While Todd Farriss and one of his grandsons, Landon Hodge, recovered from the accident, Jenson Hodge passed away later at the hospital on Christmas Eve. Sprunger also launched a project to keep the 4-year-old’s memory alive and to prevent similar tragedies. Jenson Rescue Ropes are now installed at ponds and bodies of water throughout the area. More information is available at

Sprunger was able to travel to the White House with his wife and also Ryan Sullivan, EWFD chairman, for the ceremony.

Sprunger, who is a third-generation firefighter, received the state Valor Award Nov. 4, 2020 from State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon.

Other recipients include officers Ryan Smith, Vincent Mendoza, and Robert Paul III of the California Highway Patrol were caught in a gunfight with a violent assailant who had shot and killed their colleague in an unprovoked attack during a traffic stop. The officers went to incredible lengths to protect each other, even as Officer Smith and Officer Paul each sustained multiple gunshot wounds to their legs. Officer Mendoza engaged the suspect so his wounded colleagues could evacuate safely – all three of them demonstrating bravery and composure while enduring a deadly rampage.

Recipients of the 2020-2021 Class:

Firefighter Abraham Miller of the New York City Fire Department rappelled down the roof of a burning residential building – without a solid anchor for his rope – to rescue a five-year-old girl being held out a window by her grandmother. Firefighter Miller smashed the glass, reached through heavy smoke, and saved the little girl as they were lowered six floors to safety – demonstrating brave and decisive action to save lives.

Fallen Officer Jason Shuping and Officers Kyle Baker, Paul Stackenwalt, and Kaleb Robinson of the Concord, North Carolina, Police Department engaged a suspect in a busy retail area who opened fire on the officers and took a woman hostage. The officers fired at the suspect to turn attention away from their colleagues and shielding each other with their own bodies – until they ended the threat. During the gunfight, Officer Shuping paid the ultimate sacrifice.  All four men demonstrated courageous action in a volatile encounter with a gunman to protect the public.

Deputy Sheriff Dalton Rushing of the Perry County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office plunged into a frozen lake to rescue a person who had fallen through the ice and remained stuck in hypothermic conditions for 45 minutes. When the victim couldn’t grab on to him and said he was prepared to give up, Deputy Rushing tied a rope to the victim and submerged himself into the icy water until rescuers could pull them both to shore – demonstrating courageous action and uncommon poise to save lives.

Fallen 2nd Lieutenant Jared Lloyd of the Spring Valley, New York, Fire Department repeatedly rushed into a burning nursing home to carry out elderly residents who couldn’t escape in their wheelchairs and walkers. Along with his team, Lieutenant Lloyd rescued all 112 residents. As flames engulfed the building, Lieutenant Lloyd ran back in one more time to make sure no residents were trapped, ultimately sacrificing his life as the building collapsed – and demonstrating heroic actions to protect innocent civilians.

Firefighters John Colandro, Michael Rosero, and Chad Titus of the Stamford, Connecticut, Fire Department dove into freezing water during a blizzard to rescue two trapped occupants of a truck that was rapidly sinking below the waterline. After rescuing one victim, the truck fully submerged and facing strong offshore winds, the rescuers then broke a glass window – while underwater – and successfully pulled the remaining passenger out to safety. All three men demonstrated extraordinary courage to save accident victims.

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