Governor Scott Honors Two with the Medal of Heroism
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott recognized Detective Robert Smith, of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, and Trooper Marcos Diaz, of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, with the Medal of Heroism for their courageous actions and service to Florida families.
Governor Scott said, “I am honored to present Detective Robert Smith and Trooper Marcos Diaz with the Medal of Heroism. Both Detective Robert Smith and Trooper Diaz did not think twice about placing their own lives in danger during the line-of-duty in order to protect their fellow Floridians and fellow law enforcement officers. Thanks to the quick response and heroic actions of these two heroes, lives were saved and Floridians were kept safe.”
Detective Robert Smith
On November 19, 2013, Detective and Deputy U.S. Marshal Robert Smith, of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, assisted the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team, the Fort Pierce Florida Marshals Office and the DEA in the apprehension of two violent felony offenders. During the apprehension, the suspects began firing at the team, wounding two law enforcement officers. After noticing another officer pinned down by gunfire in a dangerous location, Detective Smith instructed another detective to move a patrol car to provide additional protection while approaching the trapped officer with a ballistic shield to get him out of harm’s way. During his approach, he made contact with the suspects inside the residence and instructed them to them to exit; maintaining his position until both suspects were securely apprehended and the residence was cleared.
Sergeant Rodney Vizzo, Fugitive Warrants Supervisor for the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, said, “I’m honored that Det. Smith was selected to receive this prestigious award. Det. Smith is an intelligent, courageous, and dedicated individual. He believes in the team concept and safe completion of the task at hand. He is my definition of a ‘blue collar worker.’ He comes to work every day with the belief that he does make a positive impact in the community he serves. Det. Smith is a humble and unspoken leader who does not seek recognition or accolades for his outstanding job performance. I commend Det. Smith for his actions on the day of the event, and he would say ‘I was only doing my job and anybody else would have done the same if they were in my position.’ I don’t fully agree with his response, but I will say that I have full confidence in his abilities, and any member of our unit or agency would not hesitate to enter a house with him to apprehend a violent offender. Det. Smith is a role model for others and an ideal representative of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office.”
Trooper Marcos Diaz
On July 19, 2013, Trooper Marcos Diaz, of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, responded to a capsized boat in the ocean with three occupants. Upon arriving on the scene, two of the occupants, who swam to shore, told Trooper Diaz and Monroe County Emergency Medical personnel that the third boater was still in the water and could not swim. Trooper Diaz immediately jumped in the water with a backboard from the Monroe County EMS and swam towards the individual still in the water, who had become tangled in fishing line and was dangerously near drowning. Trooper Diaz reached the man just as he began to sink from exhaustion, freed him from the fishing line, and held him above water. Trooper Diaz then signaled to the Coast Guard and they were both safely removed from the ocean.
Florida Highway Patrol Colonel David Brierton said, “Our troopers put their lives on the line every day to protect Floridians, and Trooper Marcus Diaz did just that when he saw a man who could not swim, struggling in the water off US 1 in the Florida Keys. Trooper Diaz risked his life and jumped in, helping the man to safety.”
Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle Executive Director Terry Rhodes said, “The Florida Highway Patrol appreciates Governor Scott for recognizing the heroic efforts of Trooper Diaz and Attorney General Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Atwater and Commissioner Putnam for presenting him with the Medal of Heroism on this great day.”
The “Medal of Heroism” is given to any law enforcement or correctional officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic who has distinguished himself or herself by risking his or her life deliberately above and beyond the call of duty and must have engaged in hazardous or perilous activities to preserve lives with the knowledge that such activities might result in great personal harm.
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