Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

New York State
Department of Correctional Services
Glenn S. Goord, Commissioner

Office of Public Information
[518] 457-8182
www.doccs.ny.gov

For immediate release:

11:30 a.m.
Thursday, June 9, 2005

Prison Commissioner awards medals to five employees who placed themselves in harm's way;
Ceremony also honors the 35 employees who died in the line of duty as a result of inmate actions

A Correction Officer "citizen-soldier" injured by enemy fire last summer in Iraq is among five current prison workers being honored today at the Department of Correctional Services' Training Academy on New Scotland Road in Albany, said Commissioner Glenn S. Goord.

The 3 p.m. Memorial Service and Medals Ceremony will also honor the 35 employees who have died in the line of duty since 1861 as a result of inmate actions, Commissioner Goord said.

"There is one important commonality among today's medal recipients," the Commissioner said. "In each case, these heroes showed courage and bravery in placing themselves in harm's way to protect others."

Award recipients (with full citations available at www.doccs.ny.gov) are:

  • Correction Officer Christopher M. Paiser of Franklin Correctional Facility earned the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage under fire as a "citizen-soldier" fighting as a member of the Army National Guard in Iraq last June. CO Paiser sustained severe eye injuries during a mortar attack by insurgents against his unit's compound. He has already been awarded the Purple Heart.
  • CO Stanley Phillips of Green Haven Correctional Facility earned the Medal of Honor for placing himself between an inmate and the Officer that the inmate had doused with hot oil and stabbed repeatedly.
  • CO Jeffrey Miller of Attica Correctional Facility was stabbed repeatedly while holding an inmate against a wall after the inmate had repeatedly stabbed another Officer and fought off the attempts by a third to restrain him. CO Miller also earned the Medal of Honor.
  • CO Alejandro Martinez of Downstate Correctional Facility earned the Medal of Merit by ignoring the flames from a car fire to extricate the driver before the vehicle erupted into a fiery death trap.
  • Commissary Clerk Larry Foote of Great Meadow Correctional Facility earned the Medal of Merit for entering a burning residence, awakening its sleeping residents, and leading them to safety.

Governor George E. Pataki sent a message to the awards recipients, saying that "I extend my congratulations and express the pride and thanks of all New Yorkers for the bravery shown by the five employees honored today."

Of the employees who died in the line of duty as a result of inmate actions, Governor Pataki said, "We must never take our prison employees for granted, or fail to appreciate the burden they bear. Let us pray that no other employee has to make the ultimate sacrifice that we honor here today."

Speaking for the Senate, Codes Committee Chairman Dale M. Volker of Erie County said, "The commitment, sacrifice and dedication of our Correction Officers can never be fully appreciated, as they work behind the walls of our prison system that keeps some of the most violent criminals throughout the entire United States away from our families and communities. It is my sincere hope that as we commend the heroic actions of our past and present Correction Officers, that we all continue to appreciate and thank those who provide this invaluable service to our state and nation."

Speaking for the Assembly, Jeffrion L. Aubry of Queens, Chairman of the Committee on Correction, said, "I congratulate the honorees for their unwavering courage and devotion to the performance of their law enforcement and civic duties. To those who have given their lives in the line of duty for the people of New York State, I extend my deepest sympathies to their families and loved ones."

Commissioner Goord said, "We honor the memory of our fallen employees by memorializing the fact they gave their lives in the protection of all New Yorkers. The five heroes we honor today are typical of our Correctional Services employees, who place themselves in harm's way each and every day, in and outside of prisons."

CO Paiser is one of more than 430 employees who have been called to active duty since 9/11 in the National Guard and Army Reserve. Nearly 200 Department employees remain on active duty with their units around the world, most of them in the war zones of the Mideast.

"New Yorkers have come to rely upon Correctional Services' employees as selfless contributors to the communities that have invited our prisons into their midst," Commissioner Goord said. "The heroic efforts recognized today reaffirm the professionalism and dedication that are hallmarks of today's Correctional Services' employee."

The annual ceremony takes place at the permanent memorial park dedicated in 2000 in front of the Academy building on the 50-acre Albany campus. The centerpiece of the memorial park in front of the Academy is an Empire blue granite memorial that stands 12 feet high, six feet wide, 18 inches deep. It weighs 19,711 pounds. Rather than engraving the names of fallen employees on the memorial stone, they are enshrined with plaques displayed in the Academy memorial room. Governor Pataki's proclamation of June 5-11, 2005, as "Correctional Services Employee Week" is also on display there.

Today's ceremony brings to 129 the number of medals presented since the awards program began in 1984. The 45 Medals of Honor were presented to employees "whose actions, in the line of duty, evidence an extraordinary degree of courage, bravery or heroism." The 84 Medals of Merit were presented to employees "for extraordinary performance in the line of duty or for an exceptional contribution to the Department."