U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations’ (HSI) Special Agent Christopher Pandolfi was one of 12 individuals who were presented the 2015 Department of Homeland Security Secretary’s Award for Valor by Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson May 14.
The award, which is the highest recognition for extraordinary acts of valor, was given to individuals who have displayed exceptional valor either while serving the Department, or while off-duty acting only as a concerned citizen willing to help those in need.
On Feb. 25, Pandolfi and Vermont State Police Detective Sergeant Karl Gardner were traveling on a busy stretch of Interstate 89 in Middlesex, Vermont, en route to a heroin bust. The two noticed a van in the breakdown lane that was on fire. While they initially stopped to control traffic and provide assistance, through the flames they saw an elderly man at the rear of the van. Unbeknownst to Pandolfi, the man had previously suffered a stroke and was having difficulty walking. Pandolfi and Gardner then carried the man to a safe location before the vehicle exploded.
“I realize that in this role [as an HSI special agent], I’m going to have to do some things that are dangerous. It’s just part of the job and I understand that I’m doing this for the greater good,” Pandolfi said in a March interview.
In addition to Pandolfi, individuals from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration and National Protection and Programs Directorate Federal Protective Service received awards.