Army honors rescuers in Aberdeen Proving Ground fire

Eight employees receive awards

March 05, 2011|By Mary Gail Hare

Four employees at Aberdeen Test Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground have received the Army's Award for Valor for their quick response to a fatal fire in May 2009 on the Harford County post. Three others received commander's awards, and one defense contractor employee was given a memorandum of appreciation.

Maj. Gen. Genaro Dellarocco, commander of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, presented the awards Thursday to Christopher Raab, Kevin Banigan, Philip Sibley Jr. and Michael Williams. Robert Puckett, Harry Poynter and Richard Drennan earned the Commander's Award for Civilian Service. Anthony Hardy, an employee of Jacobs Technology, received a memorandum of appreciation from Col. Jeffrey Holt, commander of Aberdeen Test Center, and a plaque from his employer.

During the awards ceremony, officials also praised firefighters from the APG Fire Department who responded to the accident, which claimed the lives of two men in a testing crew and critically injured a third. Dellarocco lauded all the responders for their "selfless service, not only to their teammates but to the organization they work for and our nation.

"They put the mission first, they didn't accept defeat, and no one turned and ran," he said. "They climbed upon that vehicle, risking their own lives, and they didn't leave their comrades behind."

The honorees came to the rescue of the crew who were trapped in a Russian-made tank during a test firing at the center. An explosive round detonated in the barrel of the tank gun and precipitated the fire. Mark Henry, a civilian commanding the operation, died in the explosion, and the gunner, Joseph Gray, died June 5 at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Doug Mauzy survived and continues to undergo treatment for severe burns.

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