Three law enforcement officers honored for Junction City fire rescue

November 07, 2003|GARY MOYERS

JUNCTION CITY -- Three local law enforcement officers were honored Thursday for their roles in rescuing a young mother and her two children from a deadly apartment fire here in September.

Junction City policeman Randall Miller, former Junction City policeman Anthony Pinkston and Lincoln County Sheriff's Deputy Toby Henderson were presented with Medals of Valor by Junction City Police Chief Jimmie Gipson after he called them "heroes in every sense of the word."

The three officers responded to a call about the apartment fire at 2:35 a.m. Sept. 7, at 4535 Hustonville Road, and upon their arrival Pinkston and Henderson discovered there were residents trapped inside a second-floor apartment.

The building was already engulfed in flames and thick smoke, but Henderson and Pinkston ran upstairs and pulled Paige Durham and her two small children out of the apartment into which the family had just moved the day before.


"They saved the lives of that young lady and her two children, no doubt about it," said Gipson. "Without regard for their own safety, without proper firefighting equipment, wearing only their duty uniforms, they ran into that smoke and fire and pulled those three people out. In my opinion, if they hadn't done what they did, that woman and her two children would have perished in that fire. That type of action is what makes a hero, and that's what these young men are."

Miller attempted to rescue 39-year-old Steve Burton from a first-floor room where the fire apparently started, but Burton was dead when his body was finally removed. Seven people, including Durham and her children, escaped the building.

"He (Miller) knew it was probably too late, but he tried to go in anyway," said Gipson. "That's going way above and beyond his duty."

Durham attended the ceremony Thursday and said she was glad to be able to thank the officers.

"It feels very good to be able to say thank you to them," she said, holding her children while surrounded by her rescuers. "I know we wouldn't be here today if it weren't for them."

Gipson said he was honored to have the opportunity to honor the three police officers.

"To my knowledge, this is the first time Junction City has honored police officers with medals of valor," he said. "These men were not trained to enter a burning building, but they did it anyway. They deserve to be recognized. It's important for our community to know there are men like this on the job."

The three were modest about the recognition, but Henderson said "it's a humbling experience for me." Miller said he "hates what caused it, but I feel honored to be up here with these two men."

Pinkston, who will join the Harrodsburg Police Department later this month, simply said, "I agree with them. We did what we needed to."

Junction City Mayor G.G. Harmon expressed his thanks to the trio.

"We are very proud of our officers and our friend from Lincoln County, and very grateful," he said. "Harrodsburg is fortunate to be getting Anthony, we're fortunate to still have Randall, and Lincoln County is fortunate to have Toby."

Lincoln Sheriff Shelby Lakes, who attended the ceremony, said his department is proud of Henderson and appreciated the recognition offered by Junction City.

"We appreciate the recognition of all three officers, and we're very proud of Deputy Henderson," he said. "Law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every time they are on duty, and often when they are not on duty. It's a great feeling to watch three young men be recognized for something that resulted in the saving of lives.

Gipson said his department isn't finished recognizing heroes.

"The firefighters who were injured in that fire will be recognized at a banquet in December," said Gipson.

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