I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. — Bob Dylan, American Musician, Singer, Songwriter.
Heroes travel along many paths: into burning buildings, caring for lost children, volunteering at homeless shelters, comforting someone who is injured, or coaching Little League. The list is infinite.
Heroes come from every walk of life, every economic circumstance and every community. I am very fortunate to hear of postal heroes as part of my communications position. And so, I will share with you what four exceptional men and women did to help their fellow man.
When Owensboro, KY, Mail Processing Clerks Diana Peterson and Larry Miller were on their lunch break at 2 in the morning, they stopped at a Shell gas station just as the store was being robbed.
"The robber didn’t see Larry or Diana," said Officer in Charge Richard Sullivan. According to police reports, the store clerk followed every demand the robber made, but was still shot at point blank range. The robber fled the scene.
"Larry initiated medical attention while Diana called 911," Sullivan said. "They both talked to the injured clerk and made him comfortable while they waited for emergency services. The bullet grazed the clerk’s hand, entered his abdomen and exited out his back."
The clerk died of his injuries. "Both Diana and Larry were able to provide eyewitness information regarding the getaway vehicle," said acting Supervisor Marty Cleland. "This information, along with store surveillance video, helped police apprehend the robber later the same day.
"Both employees responded during a time of crisis in a calm and compassionate manner," Cleland said. "It is just such a tragedy that the store clerk passed away."
In Harrison, OH, it wasn’t until Postmaster Andrea Swafford received a letter from customer Anita Rees that she knew she had a hero on his staff.
"On Saturday I fell while walking my dogs and broke my ankle," the letter began. "I was in a field behind my house. I was able to crawl a certain distance but was still very far away from help."
When Rural Carrier Associate Brandon Acus noticed Rees’ dogs running loose, he concluded something was wrong. "He got out of his vehicle and heard me yelling for help," Rees wrote. "He called 911 and along with a couple of neighbors, he ran to help me. He caught the dogs and gave me his coat to keep me warm, helped me into a neighbor’s ATV and stayed with me until the ambulance arrived.
"We are certainly blessed to have someone as alert and caring as he is," she said.
Harrison, OH, Rural Carrier Associate Brandon Acus (left) and Postmaster Andrea Swafford.
"I couldn’t agree more," said Swafford after reading the letter during a hero’s welcome in Acus’ honor.
When Charleston, WV, Secretary Masel Brown found out about a co-worker’s dedication t o his job, she wrote to FedSmith.com to make sure he received the kudos he deserves.
"On a cold wintry day, Retail/Distribution Associate Daniel Toney left his Charleston home at 4:30 a.m. in order to be on time for work in Clay, WV," Brown wrote.
What is normally a 45-minute drive took him more than four hours after a snowstorm dumped more than 20 inches of the white stuff on the Mountain State.
"But it wasn’t just the storm that delayed him," Brown continued.
"He used his four wheel drive vehicle to pull out a mail truck that was stuck in a ditch, stopped to pull out another mail truck that was stuck in a ditch a few miles further down the road, and answered a distress call from a stranded Postmaster Relief. He picked her up and delivered her safely to her Post Office.
"I asked him why he risked his life by traveling treacherous roads to get to work," she said. "He told me he comes from a postal family. ‘My mother, my sister, my stepfather and my girlfriend all work for the Postal Service. I grew up understanding the importance of what we do.’"