Twenty-eight Texans were honored on the House floor of the Texas Capitol today as Governor Greg Abbott presented the Star of Texas Awards. The awards are presented to police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel who have shown extraordinary courage and have been killed or seriously injured while serving in the line of duty. September 11th is Texas First Responder’s Day.
The Texas Governor noted during the September 10th ceremony that on Thursday America will remember the horrific attack of 9/11, and the brave first responders that ran toward the imploding skyscraper infernos to try to save those trapped there.
Governor Abbott pointed to the funeral last Friday of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth who was executed while putting gas into his patrol car. Deputy Goforth’s murder was reported extensively by Breitbart Texas.
The Star of Texas Awards were first started in 2003 to honor selected first responders who made profound commitments while in service to Texas neighborhoods. House Bill 1937 created the awards and designated September 11th of every year as Texas First Responders Day.
In 2005, the Star of Texas Awards statute was amended to expand the awards to include all peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical first responders who were seriously injured or killed in the line of duty.
In 2007, HB 1164 was signed into law which expanded the awards to include federal law enforcement officers or special agents seriously injured or killed while assisting a state or local law enforcement agency in Texas.
In 2013, amendments to the Star of Texas Awards statute expanded awards to include all citizens who were seriously injured or killed while assisting Texas first responders.
Texas has an advisory committee for each of the three categories of first responders. Committee members are appointed by the Governor to review nominees to make sure they meet the statutory criteria.
“Today Texas continues its legacy of celebrating and honoring those who have served in the most challenging circumstances,” said Governor Abbott. “It is with the highest esteem and depth of gratitude that I present the Star of Texas award to 28 Texans.”
Governor Abbott continued, “The Star of Texas award is aptly named – it goes only to those who are truly stars in the State of Texas – those who have shined in their service to our fellow Texans, those who self-sacrificed and it has allowed Texas to continue to shine as the lone star of our great nation.”
The Governor quoted the Book of John saying “Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for another.”
He addressed those who filled the House floor and overflowed into the gallery which included the families of those honored, and first responders and citizens from all over the state.
The Governor said he wished time permitted him to recount all of the stories of heroism.
He recounted how Travis County Deputy Jessica Hollis was monitoring a low water crossing in the darkness of the morning hours when her squad care was swept away by flood waters.
The Governor told the story about Houston Police Officer Raul Montelongo who was shot in the face during a routine traffic stop and survived.
Lewisville firefighter Andy Allison ran to rescue a homeowner when he was driven to his knees as water from his hose came in contact with a live wire. Although he lived, his electrocution trauma took him through two years of burn treatments, surgeries, and physical therapy.
“To the families of the fallen, I wish words could heal your hearts,” Abbott said. “We mourn your loss, we embrace you in our prayers and we honor the lasting legacy of those who so faithfully served.” To those injured in the line of duty, the Governor said, “may you find healing and hope in the knowledge that your selfless sacrifice gave others new life.”
Abbott said that “All of the men and women who protect and serve and the families who stand by their sides deserve our deepest respect.” “You represent the very best of Texas,” he told them.
The Texas Governor concluded the ceremony saying, “The First Lady joins with me in sharing Texas’ enduring gratitude. May God bless you and keep you safe each day and may he forever bless the great State of Texas.”
Jackson County Sheriff Aj (Andy) Louderback, immediate past president of the Sheriff’s Association of Texas, told Breitbart Texas, “It was an honor to be part of the Star of Texas awards. I had a deputy who was honored, Brian Martin, who was seriously injured while on duty. The Governor’s ceremony for these men and women who have sacrificed in the line of duty was superbly done.”
The 2015 recipients of the Star of Texas Awards are as follows:
Emergency Medical First Responders Killed In The Line Of Duty:
- Kristin McLain, Travis County STAR Flight
Peace Officers Killed In The Line Of Duty:
- Wayland Dixon, Little River Academy
- Jessica Hollis, Travis County Sheriff’s Office
- Christopher Kelley, Hutto Police Department
- Richard Martin, Houston Police Department
- Fredrich Sowders, Burleson County Sheriff’s Office
- Robert White, El Paso County Constable Precinct 1
Emergency Medical First Responders Seriously Injured In The Line Of Duty:
- Leslie Soto, Wilson County ESD #3
Firefighters Seriously Injured In The Line Of Duty:
- Calvin Allison, Lewisville Fire Department
- Jeffrey Patterson, Dallas Fire Rescue Department
Peace Officers Seriously Injured In The Line Of Duty:
- John D. Calhoun, Houston Police Department
- Lee Andrew Davis, Harlingen Police Department
- Shane Carl Drake, Fort Worth Police Department
- David Hull Feucht, Burleson Police Department
- Houston Lee Gass, Pampa Police Department
- Gerald Guerrero Jr., Seguin Police Department
- Tiffany Crystal Kierum, Selma Police Department
- Robert E. Layman, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
- David Adam Logan, Texas Department of Criminal Justice
- Bryan Michael Martin, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office
- Michael Edward Matsik Jr., Lubbock Police Department
- Raul Montelongo, Houston Police Department
- Cory Glenn Owens, Lubbock Police Department
- Elias Noe Reymundo Sr., Eastfield College Police Department
- John Rueben Sullivan Jr., Kaufman County Constable Precinct 4
- Jack Valenzuela, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
- Timothy Michael Varner, Lubbock Police Department
- Dennis Wayne Walker, Jacinto City Police Department
A complete list of past honorees for the Star of Texas Awards are kept on the Governor’s website at this link.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2