Six letter carriers were singled out at a ceremony September 20 in Washington for their heroic and
humanitarian actions in NALC’s annual “Hero of the Year” tribute, but NALC President William H. Young,
Postmaster General John Potter, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
emphasized that letter carriers everywhere were being honored for their countless helpful and heroic
“We are honoring these particular letter carriers today because they are outstanding
examples of how most letter carriers approach their jobs,” Young said at a special awards
luncheon. “When we honor them, we honor every letter carrier who generously delivers
that ‘extra service’ to the American public every day.”
Potter said he was particularly proud of those postal employees who are out on the street every
“Those are the folks that are really the face of the Postal Service,” Potter said. “Who else touches
America more than our letter carriers, city or rural? They are the face of government to America.”
“You are on the frontline when emergencies arise and you always respond,” said Senator Collins,
citing the “caring and compassion” of letter carriers across the nation.
The AFL-CIO’s Sweeney said: “You are the eyes and ears of our communities. Nobody knows more
about our neighborhoods, our senior citizens, our children. You are a lifeline in so many ways.”
Young presented the Hero of the Year award to Wayne Viger of Lewiston, Maine Branch 241. Viger
smelled smoke from an apartment building on his route. He pushed open the door to find an elderly
woman with her clothes aflame and her hair singed by the fire. He pulled the woman outside and
extinguished her burning clothing.
The National Humanitarian of the Year award went to Gary Fitch of St. Paul, Minnesota Branch 28 who
rode 2,800 miles across the nation on his bike this summer to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy
Association and collect Letters of Hope that will be saved on compact discs and launched into space on
a future shuttle mission.
The Carrier Alert Rescue Award was presented to Gene Kahl of Branch 321 in Pensacola, Florida,
whose suspicions about mail piling up saved an elderly man whose wife had passed away in the
Three regional heroes were also be honored: Nathaniel Roberson of Atlanta Branch 73 as Eastern
Region Hero for going to the aid of a police officer who was having trouble subduing a man who had
become unruly during a traffic stop; Debra Hamilton of Chicago Branch 11 as Central Region Hero for
administering CPR to an unconscious traffic accident victim as she was on her way to work delivering
mail; and Patti Arismendez of Branch 782 in Bakersfield, California, as Western Region Hero for rescuing
a toddler from the roadway while cars continued to whiz by.