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Medal of Valor Honors S.C. Law Enforcement’s Bravest from Aiken
By Richard Eckstrom
web posted November 29, 2012
AIKEN – It’s something folks might often
take for granted, and understandably so. After all, we live in a modern
society and pay our taxes, and therefore we fully expect the traffic
lights to work and the fire trucks to respond when we need them to.
But how often do we really stop and think of the sometimes
life-threatening circumstances behind those expectations when it comes
to our law enforcement officers?
Fortunately, there’s an organization that helps us do just that – the
South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Association.
Created in 1941, the Law Enforcement Officers Association is a
nonprofit professional group with approximately 7,200 members across
South Carolina representing virtually every rank at the municipal,
county, state and federal levels.
The association, which is open to all criminal justice professionals in
the state, advocates for its members through a variety of activities.
Those include legislative initiatives, training programs, networking
opportunities and other services.
Each year, its members gather for an awards ceremony in which the Law
Enforcement Officers Association recognizes those among its ranks
who’ve performed above and beyond the call of duty.
One of those annual distinctions is its Medal of Valor Award, which
this year was presented to three officers with the Aiken Department of
Public Safety: Martin Sawyer, Craig Burgess and Steve Miano.
The three were recognized, along with other award winners from the
association, during the group’s annual conference in mid-November.
On its website, the Law Enforcement Officers Association says its Medal
of Valor Award honors “an act of outstanding bravery performed in the
line of duty at imminent personal hazard to life under circumstances
demonstrating a disregard of personal consequences.”
The three Aiken officers certainly fit that description.
On the morning of May 17, they responded to a domestic disturbance 911
call from a home. During the emergency call, dispatchers heard a woman
say a man had a gun.
Shots were fired, and the line then fell silent.
Multiple officers rushed to the scene and established a perimeter
around the residence, then tried to make contact with the occupants.
After the officer in charge at the scene, David Savage, decided that
entry to the home was necessary, officers Sawyer, Burgess and Miano
volunteered for the dangerous assignment.
As they entered the home, a man who was lying on the floor several feet
away fired a gun at them. A single ballistic shield they were carrying
was all that protected the three officers, who returned fire and killed
He was lying next to his deceased ex-wife when he shot at the three
This was a tragic incident – another senseless domestic homicide in an
all-too-frequent pattern of South Carolinians killing their intimate
partners. (Every year similar victims of domestic homicide are
remembered in a “Silent Witness” State House ceremony organized by the
S.C. Attorney General’s Office.)
This case, however, could have been far more terrible, as the three
Aiken officers escaped harm and their actions prevented injuries to
For their bravery, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers
Association conferred on them its 2012 Medal of Valor Award.
Aiken City Council also honored the three officers recently in a
This is tremendously meaningful not only to Officers Sawyer, Burgess
and Miano, but also to the larger law enforcement community in Aiken,
and to the Aiken community as a whole.
Twice in the past year, Aiken’s Department of Public Safety has laid to
rest one of its own who was killed in the line of duty.
Officer Sandra Rogers, a 27-year veteran of the department and lifelong
Aiken County resident, was shot and killed in January while responding
to a call about a suspicious vehicle.
And in December 2011, Officer Scott Richardson was shot and killed
after he and another officer stopped a suspicious vehicle. Officer
Richardson left behind a wife and three young sons.
We owe Officers Rogers and Richardson and their families our deepest
gratitude, for they made the ultimate sacrifice in performing their
duty as guardians of the public safety.
And, in congratulating Officers Sawyer, Burgess and Miano on their
Medal of Valor Awards, let’s join them in remembering all of their
fallen brothers and sisters – not only in our local communities, but in
cities and town across our nation.
Editor's note: Richard Eckstrom is the comptroller general of South
Carolina and commander of the S.C. State Guard.
© Copyright 2012 All material is property of
Edgefield Daily and/or parent company ECL and
cannot be reproduced,
redistributed without expressed written permission.
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