Reclamation Employee Receives Department of the Interior Valor Award for Heroic Act

Media Contact: Barry Longwell, (970) 259-1110 x 1008
Lisa Iams, (801) 524-3673

For Release: November 10, 2010

Jerry Montoya, a materials engineering technician for the Bureau of Reclamation's Four Corners Construction Office, was honored today as a recipient of the Department of the Interior Valor Award presented by Deputy Secretary of Interior, David Hayes, at Interior's 67th Honor Awards Convocation in Washington D.C. Four types of awards including Distinguished Service, Safety, Bravery, and Valor, were awarded to nearly 60 recipients.

"It is one of my favorite responsibilities to recognize employees and private citizens who have made remarkable contributions to the work of the Department of the Interior and to the United States of America," said Hayes in making the presentation. "It has been both inspiring and humbling to read about your accomplishments."

Mr. Montoya was one of ten recipients of the Valor Award which is presented to Department of Interior employees who have demonstrated unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger. On January 3, 2010, Mr. Montoya was at his home in Cortez Colo., when he heard a child screaming. He looked outside and saw a dog dragging an 11-year old girl across the street by her leg. Without concern for his own personal safety, Montoya ran from his home and successfully rescued the girl from the dog by positioning himself between them. "I did not think," said Montoya. "I just took off running. All I wanted to do was get that dog off of her." While still in imminent danger from the dog, Montoya protected and carried the critically injured girl to his home while his wife called 911. He then called the girl's father and administered first aid while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Mr. Montoya's actions are believed to have saved the girl from life-threatening injuries.

"I was very impressed but not surprised when I heard what Jerry had done," said Barry Longwell, construction engineer for the Four Corners Construction Office. "He's the kind of person you have confidence in the moment you meet him and you know will do the right thing."

Montoya began his career with Reclamation in 1983, worked in private industry for a period during the mid-1990s, and returned to Reclamation in 1998 working for the Four Corners Construction Office. He has worked on a number of projects out of Cortez, Dolores, Mancos, and Durango, Colo., as well as Farmington, N.M., including the Animas-La Plata Project and dam safety projects with the Navajo Nation.

Montoya is a Vietnam War veteran, and is married with three grown children.

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