Vice President Joseph Biden recently awarded 22 people the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor, the highest national award for valor presented to the group. Two of the recipients were Long Islanders.
Former Bellmore Fire Department chief and current volunteer and FDNY firefighter, John Curley was first to respond to a house fire alert on Nov 12, 2012 in Bellmore. He arrived on the scene in a department pickup truck with his son and was informed by a bystander that an elderly woman was trapped in a second- floor bedroom.
To access the bedroom, Curley used a broken wooden ladder placed on top of a file cabinet and broke the window with his bare hands and crawled in. As smoke billowed out, Curley, without the aid of protective gear or oxygen tank, was able to locate the elderly woman who was lying unconscious. He carried her to the window and passed her down to his waiting son who immediately gave her medical attention.
Curley sustained lacerations to his hands and face and took extreme personal risks, which resulted in saving the 93-year-old woman.
On Dec 31, 2011, off-duty special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives John Capano confronted an armed suspect during a
robbery attempt at Charlie’s Family Pharmacy in Seaford. Capano chased the armed man (a recently released felon) outside and struggled with him for the gun. At the same time, a bystander called a nearby off-duty NYC police officer and retired Nassau County police lieutenant to the scene and the pair observed two men grappling over a firearm. During the struggle, Capano’s service weapon was discharged. The off-duty officer returned fire, hitting Capano in the chest. The robber then attempted to seize Capano’s weapon at which point he was shot and killed by the officer.
Capano was later pronounced dead at an area hospital. He is survived by his wife and two children. His son, John Capano, accepted the medal on his father’s behalf.