For the first time, the Aiken County Red Cross formally recognized good Samaritans and others who gave their lives in the line of duty during a “Heroes Breakfast” Thursday.
Lindsay Findley, the agency’s executive director, said she and her board of directors invited corporate supporters of the Red Cross to nominate people as heroes from their own companies and elsewhere. All the recipients received awards.
“The stories were so touching,” Findley said. “I hadn’t heard all the details before today and was blown away by the stories and some of the comments. Those receiving the recognitions were so humble about it.”
Two recipients were awarded posthumously for their sacrifices – including Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers, who died in the line of duty in January 2012. Larry Mathis of Hubbell Power Systems presented the award to memorialize Rogers and honor her father, Jack Rogers, a longtime friend of Mathis.
Anthony Venetz Sr. of Aiken received an award from Don Cheeks of Southeastern Tool Company in tribute of his son, Army Sgt. First Class Anthony Venetz Jr., who was killed two years ago while serving in Afghanistan – his third overseas deployment. The younger man received two Bronze Stars and many other medals.
“We honor him as a true hero,” Cheeks said.
Phil Collins, a Savannah River Remediation engineer, has worked at the Site for 24 years, and suffered a nearly fatal heart attack at work on March 7.
He’s married, has children and six grandchildren, and from his home Thursday, he said, “I’m lucky to be alive.”
Two other SRR engineers, Gary Cauthen and Mike Davis, provided CPR. Richard Shelley led an emergency team from a Savannah River Nuclear Solutions fire station and kept Collins alive on the way to a hospital.
Bridgestone sponsored the Heroes Breakfast. Plant manager John Stewart and executive Fran Jones presented one award to staffer Jeremy Goldman for his work with the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division to become a reserve deputy with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department. The other recipient from Bridgestone, Lacey Adams, has been remarkably devoted to her work with animal rescue efforts. She has fostered more than 100 animals.
Other winners were:
• Gary Abell of SRR/URS cited the comfort efforts of staffer Randy Hicks, who has volunteered with hospice programs to be with patients and their families.
• Tognum Americas executive Jens Baumeister introduced four employees – Daniel Douglas, Eric Belender, Anthony Tran and John Browers – who assisted an injured co-worker after his car was hit by a speeding truck.
• Steve Marr of Shaw/Areva Mox praised the military medical contributions of staffer Eric Radford with the Army and Navy and for his support of the medical community. He has done work with the Wounded Warriors program and has participated in three medical deployments.
• Randy Garver of WSI-SRS described Andy Hogg as a first-aid hero, citing his work as a first-responder and for training others in countless ways. Hogg is also a reserve deputy with the Barnwell County Sheriff’s Department and an EMT and firefighter in Barnwell.
• Jackie Court, a North Augusta resident, received an award from Findley and Red Cross state official Jeanne Carmichael. Court worked with the Red Cross as a recreational staffer and director for 13 months during the Vietnam War in 1966-67.
“Heroes come in many forms,” Findley said. “Each corporation has designated an individual or a group. It’s an opportunity for the Red Cross to celebrate these humble individuals. Thanks to Bridgestone for sponsoring this event.”