Award is the highest honor state bestows on its public servants

SACRAMENTO, CA – The State of California today honored 22 state employees with the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award (Medal of Valor Award) for acts of heroism, during a ceremony at the California Highway Patrol Academy in West Sacramento. The Medal of Valor Award is the highest honor the state can give its employees.

Medals were presented to the 22 recipients, from seven state departments, on behalf of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. by Keely Bosler, the Governor’s Cabinet Secretary. Other state officials participating in the ceremony include Richard Gillihan, Director, California Department of Human Resources (CalHR); Joseph A. Farrow, Commissioner, California Highway Patrol (CHP); John Laird, Secretary, California Natural Resources Agency; Brian P. Kelly, Secretary, California State Transportation Agency; Ralph Diaz, Undersecretary for Operations, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR);  Major Jonathan Shiroma, Deputy Director of State Personnel, California Military Department (Military).

“Today’s recipients exemplify what it means to be a public servant, acting without regard for their own safety in order to help their fellow citizens,” said Gillihan. “They make California a better place and the state is fortunate to have them.”

The award comes in two distinctions, the Special Service Award (Silver) for an act of heroism by a state employee extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at personal risk to his or her safety to save human life or state property, and the Special Act Award (Gold) for an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life.

Actions taken by this year’s recipients include fending off and subduing an armed assailant, rescuing a woman from a burning vehicle, saving three individuals from drowning, and pulling a suicidal woman from a freeway overpass.

Recipients of today’s awards, the level of their award, and their employing department are as follows:

  • Jaymi Appleberry, Gold, CDCR
  • Mike Johnson, Gold, CDCR
  • Steve Gallegos, Gold, California Department of Forestry & Fire Protection (Cal Fire)
  • Steven Van Heertum, Gold, Cal Fire
  • Michael Dilts, Silver, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)
  • Chad Edwards, Silver, CDFW
  • James Anderson, Silver, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
  • Kenneth Myers, Silver, Caltrans
  • Rodney Walker, Silver, Caltrans
  • Dean Rouse, Silver, Caltrans
  • Kevin Maniord, Silver, CHP
  • Andrew Murrill, Silver, CHP
  • Kerry Comphel, Silver, CHP
  • Jason Hughes, Silver, CHP
  • Daryl Hansen, Silver, CHP
  • Timothy Montoya, Silver, CHP
  • David Robles, Gold, CHP
  • Christopher Swanberg, Silver, CHP
  • Christopher Connolly, Silver, California Department of Parks and Recreation
  • Jeff Ginther, Silver, Military
  • Jesse Hernandez, Gold, Military
  • Michael Long, Gold, Military

The Medal of Valor Award is sponsored by the California Department of Human Resources. Award nominations are made by the employee’s department, reviewed by the statewide Merit Award Board, and selected by the Director of CalHR. Since the program began in 1959, 591 state employees have received Medals of Valor.

For more information about the Medal of Valor Award, visit Details of each recipient’s award will be posted to the website after the ceremony.
CalHR is responsible for all issues related to employee salaries and benefits, job classifications, civil rights, training, exams, recruitment and retention. For most employees, many of these matters are determined through the collective bargaining process managed by CalHR. CalHR was created on July 1, 2012, by Governor Brown’s Reorganization Plan Number 1 of 2011.

The reorganization plan consolidated the State of California’s two personnel departments, combining the Department of Personnel Administration with certain programs of the State Personnel Board. For more information about CalHR visit