U.S. Marine Corps WO Rob Wallace, a Sylvania native, was at his desk in the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists slammed a hijacked passenger plane into the building.
Warrant Officer Wallace said he didn't hesitate when he joined a three-man team and rushed into the inferno caused by the crash. He raced in and out of the building several times to rescue survivors and recover bodies.
“I was doing what anyone would do,” said Warrant Officer Wallace, who has been a Marine for more than 11 years. “I did what came naturally. It was totally reactionary.”
Mr. Wallace was honored with the Heroism Award last night by the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio during its 36th annual Hero Awards Banquet at The Pinnacle in Maumee. Thirty-six other people also were honored.
Among the people Warrant Officer Wallace pulled from the inferno was a man who died in his arms that morning. The man was so badly burned, Mr. Wallace had to help him dial his wife on his cell phone.
Joel Kaminski, president of the Safety Council of Northwest Ohio, said Warrant Officer Wallace should have been honored last year, but was not because of an oversight.
Also honored with the Heroism Award were three Sylvania police officers. On Jan. 6, 2002, Officers William Haase and Amy Martin and Sgt. Scott Reed rescued several people from an apartment building fire at 5301 West Alexis Ave. Included among the people pulled from the blaze were Todd Sergent, who presented the officers with the award. Mr. Sergent fought back tears and told the three officers: “If you hadn't pulled me out, I wouldn't be here for my daughter.”
Also honored were police officers Travis Hackworth and Shane Hartman from Allen County's Shawnee Township, who were given Certificates of Appreciation.
On Feb. 17, 2002, the two officers pulled five township residents from a fire in a duplex on Cletus Parkway. During the course of evacuating the residents, Officer Hackworth kicked in an apartment door and found an elderly couple, one of whom was an invalid asleep in the bedroom.
Other Hero Award recipients were:
w Gregory Fesko, who pulled a man from a burning car on April 4, 2002.
w Toledo police Officer Eric Sweat, who rescued a resident from a burning home on Hamilton Street on Dec. 4, 2002.
w Jeremy S. Aldrich, Scott E. Aldrich, and Bill Schaffer, who rescued a woman from her burning car after it was hit by a train near Henry County Road D and State Rt. 18 on Dec. 7, 2002.
w Bill Nichelson, who pulled a disabled co-worker from a burning van in their company parking lot just south of Kenton, Ohio, on Dec. 26, 2002.
Good Samaritan Award recipients were Toledo police Sgt. Daniel Ray, Sal Garcia, Cathy Zenz, Antwoine Perrin, Richard and Penelope Faist, Ben Brown, Patrick Beck, Anthony Crutchfield, Dr. Nagi Bishara, Kevin Boisselle, Jim Fish, Victoria Gedeon, Tonya Padilla, Dr. Charles Valone, Keith Bodi, Chris Herwat, Ed Nau, and Matt Ward.
Certificates of appreciation were given to Toledo police Officers David Swantek, Gary Zolciak, Frank Armstead, Pete Sepeda, and Jeff Scott.