Justin Garner Receives Highest Honor
Carthage police Cpl. Justin Garner, hailed as a hero for bringing a halt to a massacre at a nursing home in March, has received his department's highest honor.
At the June session of the town commissioners Monday night, Chief Chris McKenzie presented the Medal of Valor to Garner. It is the highest award for courage under fire and has not been presented to any other officer in the history of the county seat, spanning more than 200 years.
"Not that I am aware of, and certainly the first in my career," McKenzie said. "The medal of valor is given in recognition of heroism."
The formal award is a silver disk showing "Medal of Valor" surrounded by a representation of a laurel wreath hanging from a blue ribbon. It was accompanied by a service ribbon showing a blue capital letter V (for valor) on white between red bars.
Garner will wear that on his uniform shirt every day for the rest of his service in law enforcement, McKenzie said. He gave Garner a purple heart medal and pin, an award bestowed to police officers who suffer injury while acting in the line of duty.
Garner's wife, Stephanie, other family members, municipal staff and a number of officers from the department were present for the awards, which were not announced publicly beforehand -- more of a private service before fellow officers.
Garner has been highly praised for ending a shooting rampage in which seven elderly patients and a nurse were killed March 29 at Pine Lake Health and Rehabilitation Center.
"How do you thank somebody like Justin?" McKenzie asked. "One saving lives as a police officer at the risk of his own? This extraordinary act he did, the bravery he showed, deserves the Medal of Valor. It is recognition of any one act of heroism. Justin is more deserving than anybody I can imagine would be. I said it before: if this is not heroism, I don't know what is."
The meeting room erupted in applause and a standing ovation, and Garner made the traditional round to shake hands with Mayor Ronnie Fields, Town Manager Carol Sparks, Town Clerk Melissa Adams and the commissioners.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story