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Letter Carrier Named ’National Hero of the Year’ for Saving Life of Badly Injured Motorcyclist


WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 -- A Maine letter carrier who used his Navy life-saving skills to prevent a motorcyclist from bleeding to death after an accident, was named today as National Hero of the Year by the 305,000-member National Association of Letter Carriers.

NALC President William H. Young will present the National Hero of the Year award to David Heald of Kennebunk, Maine, a member of NALC Maine Merged Branch 92, at a special ceremony September 28 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill hotel in Washington, D.C.

Heald, 42, was driving home from work on Sept. 1, 2004 when he came upon a gruesome accident in which a motorcyclist had smashed into a sedan, severing his leg three inches below the hip. Using life-saving skills he learned in the Navy, the letter carrier took off his shirt and covered the injury and then used a leather bungee strap to create a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.

According to police, had Heald not made the tourniquet and applied it correctly, the motorcyclist would have died before paramedics arrived.

The union’s annual National Humanitarian of the Year award will be presented to Juan G. Cordero of Selma, Calif., a member of NALC Central California Branch 231, who has made it his mission to refurbish bicycles and then present them to children from low-income neighborhoods. Cordero, 47, began when two kids from his route in Selma, 15 miles southeast of Fresno, said they received no presents for Christmas, so Cordero went out and purchased two scooters. Soon, he was looking for bikes to repair for other children.

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.

“We are extremely proud of these men and women who have continued the tradition of letter carriers coming to the aid of those in need along their postal routes, often at risk of personal danger,” Young said.

Paula P. Peiper, 50, of Carlisle, Pa., a member of NALC Allen L. Stuart Branch 500 in Harrisburg, was named the recipient of the Special Carrier Alert Rescue Award for her quick action on Dec. 6, 2004 after noticing that an 88-year-old customer along her route in Carlisle had not picked up his mail for a few days. She contacted a family member who discovered the elderly man lying on his floor suffering from a stroke.

Minneapolis Branch 9 and St. Paul, Minn. Branch 28 were jointly selected for the Branch Service Award for setting up a Letter Carrier booth at the Minnesota State Fair for people to send greetings to American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and elsewhere overseas. More than 10,000 did so, with the U.S. Postal Service providing postage.

Three regional heroes will also be honored at the Sept. 28 event:

Willie G. Hayward, 50, of Miami, Fla., a member of NALC South Florida Branch 1071, was named Eastern Region Hero for rescuing an elderly couple from their burning apartment on Jan. 31, including dashing back into the smoke-filled apartment to pull out a man who was asleep in his bed.

Thomas L. Ortosky, 44, of Brook Park, Ohio, a member of NALC Cleveland Branch 40, was named as Central Region Hero for saving two young girls from a pack of dogs in August, 2004 on his route in Brook Park by distracting the dogs’ attention to him until wardens arrived to capture them.

Richard A. Bergonzi, 49, of Moore, Oklahoma, a member of NALC Oklahoma City Br. 458, was named Western Region Hero for rescuing a 8-year-old recovering from brain surgery and assisting other members of his family from their burning home in February, 2004 along his postal route in Moore.

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 (MD) Fire and Rescue Services.


EDITOR’S NOTE: The awards will be presented at a special luncheon ceremony at 11:30 a.m. EDT Sept. 28 at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill Hotel, 400 New Jersey Ave., N.W., in Washington, D.C. Facilities will be available for electronic and print media coverage.


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