||NALC President William H. Young and Deputy Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe join award winners following the ceremony. Pictured, l-r, are: National Humanitarian Lane Anderson, Br. 290, Santa Barbara, CA; Bernadine Morris, wife of New Orleans, LA Br. 124 member Leonard Morris, Central Region Hero; Carrier Alert Award Winner Samuel Dickson, Br. 271, Richmond, IN; Eastern Region Hero Terry Hampton, Br. 270, Macon, GA; Donahoe; Young; Western Region Hero Luis Espinosa, Br. 283, Houston, TX; and National Hero Jim Osborne, Br. 1690, West Palm Beach, FL.
West Palm Beach, Florida Branch 1690 Carrier Jim Osborne, who put aside delivering mail on Florida’s East Coast to help rescue victims of Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana with his airboat, has been chosen as NALC National Hero of the Year for 2006 by a panel of independent judges.
NALC President William H. Young will present the National Hero of the Year award to Osborne and five other awards at a special luncheon ceremony September 7 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, DC.
Osborne, 48, knew that the airboat in his driveway would be invaluable in Louisiana and did not hesitate to put together a 10-boat convoy of members of the South Florida Airboat Association to make the trip of mercy. His colleagues back home first learned of his heroic activity when Osborne’s rescue efforts were mentioned on National Public Radio.
During the stressful rescue period – often out in the boat 12 to 15 hours a day – in and around New Orleans, Osborne said he brought in about 20 people and his Florida group altogether probably saved more than 175 people from flood waters.
The union’s annual National Humanitarian of the Year award will be presented to Vietnam veteran Lane Anderson of Santa Barbara, California Branch 290, who developed a memorial tribute on a Pacific beach to the thousands of men and women who have been killed in Iraq. His display – consisting of small white crosses with flags to depict each member of the Armed Services killed in the war, has been dubbed “Arlington West.” The memorial – which is reconstructed every Sunday and then removed at sunset – is an ongoing project of the national Veterans for Peace organization.
Anderson, who is retired from the Post Office and is a past president of Br. 290, has about 20 volunteers for the weekly ritual. It includes placing the crosses – now over 2,000 – three feet apart, each with a marker indicating the date and event of the fatal incident in Iraq.
In announcing the awards, Young said the winners this year are a proud addition to the long list of letter carriers who have performed heroic and humanitarian acts throughout the union’s history.
“Letter carriers have a long tradition of coming to the aid of those in need along their postal routes and elsewhere, often at risk of personal danger,” Young said. “We are extremely proud of these men and women.”
Samuel Dickson, a member of Richmond, Indiana Br. 271, was named the recipient of the Special Carrier Alert Rescue Award for coming to the rescue of an elderly widower who fell off a ladder and was lying partially hidden in bushes outside his home. After calling 911 and keeping him warm, Dickson remained at his side until paramedics arrived and later visited him in the hospital an hour away in Indianapolis.
Three regional heroes will also be honored at the September 7 event:
- Terry Hampton of Macon, Georgia Br. 270 was named Eastern Region Hero. After hearing a scream, he helped police apprehend a man who had assaulted a woman with a knife in a carjacking attempt. Hampton was stunned to later learn that the woman who was attacked was his wife.
- Luis Espinosa of Houston, Texas Br. 283 was named as Western Region Hero for crawling through a burning apartment in a housing development on his Dayton, TX route, dragging a burned man to safety, and calling fire officials who credited him with saving many others with his speedy actions.
- Leonard Morris of New Orleans, Louisiana Br. 124 was named Central Region Hero for dragging his boat through rising waters to rescue eight people trapped in a house as Hurricane Katrina swept through his city. Morris, a 75-year-old retired carrier, jumped into the murky water after his vessel ran out of gas and used the anchor line – tossing the anchor forward, then pulling the boat up, and then tossing the anchor again – to get the victims to safety.
Judges were Jordan (Bud) Biscardo, AFL-CIO Community Services liaison at United Way of America; Shelby Hallmark, Director, U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs, and Phil Guercio, Chief of Montgomery County (Maryland) Fire and Rescue Services.