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Alaskan Heroes to be Honored at American Red Cross of Alaska Centennial Real Heroes Breakfast

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ANCHORAGE, April 13, 2017 — The American Red Cross has been serving Alaskans for 100 years, and this year’s Real Heroes Breakfast will feature a historical perspective as we honor individuals for acts of heroism throughout Alaska.


This inspiring event raises critical funds for the Red Cross of Alaska. The event takes place in the Hotel Captain Cook Ballroom in Anchorage on Tuesday, April 18. Doors open at 6:45 a.m. and the program begins promptly at 7 a.m. A media box will be available.


These everyday heroes are nominated each year by fellow Alaskans for exceptional acts of bravery, quick-thinking, selflessness, and skill. Every day ordinary people roll up their sleeves and perform extraordinary act of heroism,” said Tanguy Libbrecht, CEO of the American Red Cross of Alaska. Red Cross’s lifesaving programs and services equip Alaskans with skills and information necessary to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies. It is an honor to recognize these extraordinary Alaskans for their contributions to our communities statewide.”


The event will be hosted by Red Cross of Alaska Board Chair Jennifer Dow and Chair-Elect Josh Howes, along with presenters from 10 corporate partners, who have sponsored the heroes.


Close to 500 guests are expected to pay tribute to more than 30 heroes in 10 categories who, in the last year faced challenging situations and made the selfless decision to help someone in need. The ceremony will spotlight each hero’s story and award them with a Red Cross Hero medal.


The Winners are:



Sponsored by: The Grainger Foundation

Heroes: Dave Decker, Rose Frisby and Daren Beals


In January 2016, Alpine employees Dave Decker, Rose Frisby and Daren Beals responded to a request to provide aid to a 9-week-old, respiratory- distressed, premature baby in the small city of Nuiqsut, in North Slope Borough, Alaska. Thanks to the team’s response, baby was successfully transported to the care of Providence Hospital. Although far outside of “normal” job duties, personnel responded professionally and effectively to what appears to have indeed been a lifesaving exercise.




Sponsored by: BP

Hero: Matt Bowen


In October 2016, Carlile driver Matt Bowen came across a single vehicle roll over collision on the Dalton Highway. Bowen found the driver in critical condition. Bowen called for emergency medical personnel, stayed with the injured man until the ambulance arrived, then accompanied the medical team in the ambulance on the 2-hour drive to Deadhorse. Bowen provided critical support while in route. The driver has since recovered from the life-threatening accident, thanks largely to the heroic efforts of Bowen.




Sponsored by: Dowland-Bach

Heroes: Mike, Erin, Noah, Logan and Harper Carriker


In July 2016, a whale watching cruise ship struck a reef and began taking on water in Favorite Channel, outside Juneau. While the passengers and crew waited for the Coast Guard to respond, The Carriker Family came across the ship while cruising the channel on their boat. The family helped the crew and passengers on to their 10-person capacity boat. Three of the passengers clung to the side of the family boat as the cruise ship sank, until those on board could help pull them aboard.




Sponsored by: Alaska Regional Hospital

Hero: Sayde Ridling


In July 2016, a 60-year-old man collapsed from a heart attack while visiting Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center in Juneau. 911 dispatcher Sayde Ridling fielded the call from park rangers while an ambulance was in route. Ridling communicated with rangers while they used an automatic external defibrillator (AED) to begin shocks and CPR. Thanks to Ridling’s leadership skills and quick response, the man’s life was saved.




Sponsored by: ConocoPhillips

Heroes: Josh Johnston, Jesse Moody, Julius Ramolete, Denny Macato, Ruel Baruela, Nestor Domingo


Alaska USA Federal Credit Union strides for a safe work environment by providing CPR training to employees. Instructor Josh Johnston’s training paid off when a group of employees were out to lunch one day and found a man unconscious and not breathing in a restaurant parking lot. The group called 911 and began chest compressions. Once paramedics arrived they commended the crew for their efforts and said the man’s recovery was due to their efforts. 



Sponsored by: First National Bank Alaska

Heroes: Coach Andy Lee and the Sitka Boys Basketball Team

The Sitka High Boys Basketball team was in Anchorage for a basketball tournament when they spotted a fire break out in a three story apartment building. The coach and team jumped into action. They evacuated 11 people and got them to safety while alerting emergency response to the incident. Lives were saved thanks to the safe and quick response of the team.




Sponsored by: PRA

Heroes: Lt. Matthew Keiper, Lt. John Rauschenberger, AST1 Simon Ochoa, AMT2 Zachary Thoman


A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew rescued six hunters outside Nome in Juneau after their two vessels became stranded by sea ice. The crew were hunting walrus 122 miles north of Nome when the vessels were cut off from open water by sea ice. The vessels contacted Alaska State Troopers for help, who in turn contacted the Coast Guard when communications were cut off. The crew of an Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter rescued the boaters and transported them to Shishmaref.




Sponsored by: Sam’s Wholesale Dimond

Hero: Officer Mitchel Veenstra


In May 2016, Officer Mitchel Veenstra of the Anchorage Police Department responded to a single car roll-over accident. The car was on fire, with smoke billowing from the windows. The driver, whose arm was pinned under the vehicle, was conscious and screaming for help. Officer Veenstra quickly solicited help from passersby as flames started to creep up the vehicle. The Officer and four men moved the car off the driver and removed him from the vehicle. Seconds later, the car erupted in flames.



Sponsored by: Providence Health & Services

Hero: Brenda Riley


In October 2016 Sergeant Allen Brandt of the Fairbanks Police Department was shot multiple times while on duty.  Brenda Riley heard the gunshots from her home.  Riley ran outside to Sgt. Brandt’s aid without regard for the whereabouts of the suspect or her own personal safety.  Riley kept Sgt. Brandt alert, called FPD, relayed information to dispatch, and assisted in flagging down responding officers to the area which wasn’t readily noticeable from the roadway.  Sgt. Brandt survived the encounter but died from complications of his wounds two weeks later. Thanks to Riley’s heroic acts, Sgt. Brandt was able to spend two additional weeks with his family.




Sponsored by: Anchorage Firefighters Union 1264

Heroes: Mike Ascone, Mike Bates, Jim Jury


Anchorage Fire Fighters from station #15 responded to a working home fire in July 2016. The homeowner had working smoke alarms, and was able to escape safely, but the homeowner’s dog was trapped in the home. The fire fighters searched relentlessly until finally finding the dog wedged in a tiny space under the bed, hiding. Fire fighters Jim Jury and Mike Bates waited and worked together to coax the dog out. Thanks to working smoke alarms, the resident escaped safely, and the fire fighters could put their efforts into distinguishing the fire and located the pet.


About the American Red Cross of Alaska:
In FY16, the American Red Cross of Alaska offered food, shelter, comfort and hope to 608 Alaskans. We responded to 200 single and multi-family house fires.  Our preparedness / Health and Safety teams installed 1,425 smoke alarms statewide and educated 2,344 youth through our Pillowcase Project. Additionally, our Service to the Armed Forces staff exchanged 796 emergency messages for U.S. military service personnel and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @redcrossak.