Governor Honors First Responders with ‘Star of Texas’ Awards

Officer Awarded Star of Texas Medal
Photo: Office of the Texas Governor

Texas Governor Greg Abbott paused to honor Texas’ first responders who were killed in the line of duty or who put themselves at great risk to protect and serve the public.

“Today, Texas honors the extraordinary few – those who have demonstrated the character and the courage to repeatedly put their lives on the line to serve and protect their communities,” Governor Abbott said on the floor of the Texas Senate on Monday. “Today we recognize acts of uncommon valor – by first responders, firefighters and law enforcement officers – willing to put everything on the line to keep us safe. All of the men and women who protect and serve, and the families who stand by their sides, deserve our deepest respect. They represent the very best of Texas.

The Texas Legislature created the awards during the 2003 session to honor the men and women who have been seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. The 2016 Honorees included 20 law enforcement officers who were killed in the line of duty. These included Harris County Deputy Sheriff Darren Goforth, who was executed by a lone gunman just over one year ago. It also included the five Dallas-area officers who were shot and killed by another shooter. Both of these incidents had connections to the climate of anger towards police coming from the Black Lives Matter movement.

Fortunately, no firefighters were among those killed in the line of duty in the past year. Several firefighters and other first responders were honored for their injuries received in the line of duty. Those included five firefighters and one volunteer firefighter who were seriously injured while working to save lives or property. Additionally, 31 law enforcement officers were honored for being severely injured in the line of duty.

Governor Abbott’s office released a video honoring those who were severely injured or killed in the line of duty in the past year:

Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman was on-hand to receive the awards for those under his command. “I was honored to represent The Harris County Sheriff’s Office as Governor Greg Abbott gave out awards to three members of the HCSO family,” Hickman told Breitbart Texas. “Detective Tommy Keen, Deputy Trey Valdez, and deputy Darren Goforth were awarded the Star of Texas Awards posthumously for their service to the residents of the State of Texas.”

“Detective Keen was killed while helping to remove fallen trees from a roadway during a storm during Hurricane Ike, just a month short of his retirement date,” Hickman continued. “Detective Keen had served the Harris County Sheriff for 35 years and was a well-known Robbery Detective.”

(Photo: Office of the Texas Governor)

(Photo: Office of the Texas Governor)

“Deputy Jesse ‘Trey’ Valdez III was an 11-year veteran and was killed by a drunk driver while responding to a call,” the sheriff recalled. “Deputy Darren Goforth, a 10-year veteran was murdered, execution style, on August 28th 2015 in a highly publicized incident that rocked the Harris County area a year ago.”

Hickman said the mood in the chamber of the Texas Senate was solemn as Governor Abbott handed out the awards to each of the family members or agency representatives who were present.

A poignant reminder of the dangers of the jobs performed by these heroes was illustrated as some of the injured used canes or walked with the aid of a prosthesis to compensate for their injuries.

State Representative Dustin Burrows (R-Lubbock) said that “at a time when people would target law enforcement officers simply for wearing a uniform or a badge, it says a lot about where Texans stand in supporting first responders.” The Texas Panhandle Rep. said it was an honor for him to stand with those being recognized for their heroism. “As I have said on many occasions,” he concluded, “I fully support law enforcement and the sacrifices they make on our behalf.”

The 2016 recipients of the Star of Texas Awards are:

Peace Officers Killed in the Line of Duty

  • Darrell Lamond Allen, Marlin Police Department
  • Adrian Arellano, El Paso Police Department
  • Richard Allen Brush, Point Comfort Police Department
  • Paul Aaron Buckles, Potter County Sheriff’s Office
  • Caran Renee Coward, Livingston Police Department
  • Reuben B. DeLeon Jr., Houston Police Department
  • Steven Keith Fleming, Gainesville Police Department
  • Darren H. Goforth, Harris County Sheriff’s Office
  • David Stefan Hofer, Euless Police Department
  • Thomas Luell Keen, Harris County Sheriff’s Office
  • William Karl Keesee, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • John Mathew Maki, Celeste Police Department
  • Michael Joe Naylor, Midland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jeffrey Don Nichols, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • David Ortiz, El Paso Police Department
  • Michael Anthony Pimentel, Elmendorf Police Department
  • Jeffrey Emmons Radford, Bell County Constable Precinct 3
  • Mark Luis Scianna, Bexar County Constable Precinct 3
  • Jesse Valdez III, Harris County Sheriff’s Office
  • Donald Ellis Wass, Washington County Sheriff’s Office

Emergency Medical First Responders Seriously Injured in the Line of Duty

  • Howard Gene Holmes, 3n1 Volunteer Fire Department

Fire Fighters Seriously Injured in the Line of Duty

  • Jeremiah Matthew Casares, Austin Fire Department
  • Eddie Hykel, West Fire Department
  • George W. Nors, West Fire Department
  • David Alan Maler, West Fire Department
  • Emmanuel Mitchell, West Fire Department

Peace Officers Seriously Injured in the Line of Duty

  • Michael Paul Bali, Arlington Police Department
  • Leticia Flores Brooks, Arlington Police Department
  • Ryan Edward Burns, Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department
  • Joseph Canales, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
  • Jennifer Castaneda, Jacinto City Police Department
  • Michael Jawad Chapman, Conroe Police Department
  • Richard Gilmore Doane, Concho County Sheriff’s Office
  • Michael Donato, Bexar County Sheriff’s Office
  • Charles Joseph Duhamel, Harlingen Police Department
  • Ryan Lamar Durrett, Lubbock Police Department
  • Jacob Quintana Flores, Lubbock Police Department
  • Wilford Lloyd Garvin, Galveston County Sheriff’s Office
  • Carlos Guillermo Henderson, The Colony Police Department
  • Rodney Flores Hernandez, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • John Hogan, Lake Jackson Police Department
  • Brian Jackson, San Angelo Police Department
  • Stephen Andrew Jones, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office
  • Andrew Scott Jordan, Corpus Christi Police Department
  • Timothy Ray Keele, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Chad Matlock, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Ann McSwain, Cedar Hill Police Department
  • Zachary Reid Mills, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Vicente Pablo Moreno, Dallas Police Department
  • Michael Nicholas Orndorff, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Matthew A. Pearce, Fort Worth Police Department
  • Armando Perez, Austin Police Department
  • James Pittman, Austin Police Department
  • Steven Wayne Ruebelmann, Corpus Christi Police Department
  • Jeremy Justin Talbert, Harris County Constable’s Office Precinct 4
  • Michael Anthony Thomas, Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Ricky D. Wallace,Texas Tech University Police Department

Editor’s Note: This article was updated with additional information.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.


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