Medal of Honor given to three city officers for saving life

December 18, 2003|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Three Baltimore police officers were awarded the Medal of Honor yesterday for helping save the life of a comrade who had been shot by a sniper during a drug arrest last year.

The officers - Sgt. Sean R. Kapfhammer, Ralph J. Ciambruschini and William P. Hoover - were honored during the city Police Department's annual award ceremony, which also recognized the work of dozens of other officers and citizens for valor, assiduousness and service.

The wounded officer, Christopher B. Houser, 31, was honored with the department's citation of valor.

Police Commissioner Kevin P. Clark said the four officers risked their lives to make Baltimore safer, and credited them - as well as the other officers receiving honors yesterday - for going "above and beyond what they raised their hand up and swore what to do in this job."

"They put their lives on the line and a life is not cheap," Clark said. "We don't need to just stand at a funeral and recognize the great deeds of an individual. We need to recognize them here and now."

The four officers were trying to arrest a drug dealer in Northwest Baltimore on July 20 last year when someone opened fire and hit Houser in the right shoulder, severing an artery and collapsing one of his lungs.

With Kapfhammer and Ciambruschini scanning for the sniper, Hoover plugged his fingers into Houser's entry and exit wounds to staunch his friend's bleeding.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Billy," Houser said, referring to Hoover, who helped stop his bleeding.

Houser, whose right arm was in a sling yesterday from recent surgery related to nerve damage, credited the officers' quick thinking for saving his life. With more surgery and physical therapy ahead of him, Houser said he hopes to return to work in another year.

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