Several Forest Service employees were recognized during USDA’s Unsung Hero Award program May 4. The Unsung Hero awards are given to USDA employees who have demonstrated “extraordinary effort in performing tasks, who have unselfishly shared time and expertise and consistently and willingly extended a helping hand.” The award recipients include Kim Lightley, John Piche and Jarvis Alexander. Among the “Honorable Mentions” was Bob Beckley.
Kim Lightley, Critical Incident Response Specialist with Washington Office Fire and Aviation Management, is unfailing in her commitment to give back to the people who sacrifice so much fighting structure and wildland fires, and, even more so, to the survivors of those who never come home. Lightley survived the 1994 South Canyon Fire; nine of her crewmembers from the Prineville Interagency Hotshots and five others were overrun and killed. Recognizing that her own experiences had impacted her life and recovery from this traumatic experience, Lightley has placed her daily emphasis on helping others within the wildfire community to prepare for—and recover from—tragic events. She travels nationwide teaching Stress First Aid for Wildland Firefighters and You Will Not Stand Alone, assists in interventions for wildland fire critical incidents and promotes awareness of suicide prevention. Lightley is an active participant and organizer for the annual National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, and participates annually in the South Canyon Fire staff ride and Prineville Memorial Hotshot Run. In addition to all of this, she can frequently be found on site supporting agency and family survivors when a firefighter dies in the line of duty, and continues to provide vital support to survivors long after the event.
Jarvis Alexander, assigned to the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Region 4, has demonstrated 11 years of pure dedication with the Forest Service as a Law Enforcement Officer. Just over a year ago, LEO Alexander and other officers responded to a call where a 16-year-old girl sustained a severe head injury while sledding on National Forest System lands. Due to immediate roadside treatment, the young girl survived the trip to the hospital. The trauma center’s attending physician later stated that the early treatment greatly increased her chance for survival and a full recovery. LEO Alexander was one of two Forest Service LEOs, who, with a Nevada Highway Patrol Officer, went to the trauma center to provide support and a meal to the family. Clark County Proclamation issued a proclamation to the agencies for their heroism. LEO Alexander would say that his actions on that day were not exceptional and he was one of many that was just doing their job. Although that may be the case, there is no doubt that LEO Alexander is an exceptional and dedicated law enforcement officer, devoted to the community he serves, and deserving of great recognition.
John Piche, Region 9 electronics technician, was recognized for extra effort throughout Region 9 to implement the Spectrum 2019 initiative. This initiative will allow more efficient use of the available radio spectrum. He has saved the agency considerable money by using his expertise and management in executing very important and complex projects.
Bob Beckley keeps traditional skills alive in the Forest Service. Early in his career, while “fire jumping,” he was severely injured by a fall from an 80-foot tree. After a difficult rehabilitation, he turned his skills to leading a national effort to capture and preserve skills such as the use of axes, cross-cut saws, non-motorized rigging and horsemanship. Beckley’s work is extremely valuable for the management of the 110 million acres of designated United States wilderness where motorized equipment is prohibited.