Introduced Version House Resolution 19 History

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By Delegate Hanshaw (Mr. Speaker)
on behalf of the entire membership

March 11, 2023

Supporting the recommendation of the First Responders Honor Board that Medal of Valor nominee, Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department Firefighter John Dean Forbush, be posthumously awarded the West Virginia Medal of Valor.

Whereas, The Medal of Valor is awarded to firefighters, law-enforcement officers, and emergency medical services personnel who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty in the performance of their duties; and

Whereas, The First Responders Honor Board has submitted the Speaker of the House of Delegates the following nominee for the Legislature’s consideration:

John D. Forbush of the Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department; and

Whereas, On May 1st, 2022, Deputy Firefighter John Dean Forbush, while serving the department as a mechanic, received a call involving a car with occupants who were trapped and in imminent jeopardy for their lives in a vehicle consumed by the waters in the Elk River; and

Whereas, Firefighter Forbush used his local knowledge to determine that he was the closest and could most expeditiously arrive at the scene among his fellow Firefighters; and

Whereas, Despite his knowledge that he was not the strongest swimmer and the likelihood that this call would require a water rescue, Firefighter Forbush answered the call and rushed to the scene; and

Whereas, Upon his arrival at the scene, Firefighter Forbush found the Elk River to be flowing much more rapidly than normal and having temperature of a mere 51 degrees; and

Whereas, Despite all of the adverse circumstances and hazardous conditions, Firefighter Forbush – fully cognizant that he had to act and, disregarding the clear and present danger, at great risk to his own life in pursuit of saving those in jeopardy – leapt into the river intending to save those in peril; and

Whereas, After entering the water, Firefighter Forbush fought valiantly against the current and the chill until such a time that he himself needed the assistance of his comrades in Firefighting; and

Whereas, After calling out for assistance, Firefighter Forbush was overtaken by the waters of the river, succumbed to its depths, and did not return; and

Whereas, Firefighter Forbush gave his own life endeavoring to save the lives of others who were facing great risk of harm and death; and

Whereas, “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”; and

Whereas, The Medal of Valor is deemed the highest award that the state of West Virginia can convey to a citizen who has dedicated him or herself to public service to the people of West Virginia and may only be awarded by the Legislature, upon the recommendation of the First Responders Honor Board.

Whereas, For his heroic actions attempting to rescue those in danger for their lives, despite the great personal risk to which his efforts exposed him, his actions and sacrifice are worthy of honorable recognition and reverent remembrance; therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Delegates:

That Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department Firefighter John Dean Forbush be remembered for his unflinching bravery when the call for aid was received, a call he answered with his own last full measure of devotion, and that he therefore be posthumously awarded the West Virginia Medal of Valor; and, be it

Further Resolved, That John Dean Forbush’s bravery in the face of mortal danger to himself and his unwavering devotion to duty, culminating in his making the final sacrifice for his fellow citizens, reflect great credit upon himself, the Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department, and the highest traditions of volunteer firefighting.

Further Resolved, That the Governor shall posthumously bestow the West Virginia Medal of Valor upon John Dean Forbush upon adoption of this resolution; and, be it

Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House shall forward a copy of this resolution to the surviving family of Firefighter John Dean Forbush and the Gassaway Volunteer Fire Department.

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