Washington D.C. - Vice President Joe Biden honored two Pennsylvania State Troopers at the White House Wednesday. They were Trooper Joshua Miller who died in the line of duty, and his partner Robert Lombardo who was injured in the same incident.
The Troopers received the Public Safety Office Medal of Valor. It is the highest national award of its type. Only 16 people in the country got the recognition Wednesday.
The medal recognizes exceptional bravery and extraordinary courage. Miller and Lombardo showed those characteristics in June of 2009. While assigned to the Swiftwater Barracks in Monroe County, they chased down a man who had kidnapped his nine year old son. That man fired shots. He hit Trooper Lombardo in the shoulder. He hit Trooper Miller in the thigh and neck.
Trooper Miller died. Trooper Lombardo recovered and is now back at work. Biden said, "What is it that pushes a man like Trooper Joshua Miller to think that the safety of a kidnapped nine year old child is more important than his own physical safety?"
Trooper Lombardo somberly accepted his award first. Then, with tears in her eyes, Trooper Miller's widow Angela accepted his posthumous medal.
State Police Sergeant Mario Diana reacted, "I'm honored for them. I'm honored for the Pennsylvania State Police."
Friends and colleagues say they are proud of both men. Diana noted, "They were both exceptional officers. They did an outstanding job."
Many agree, Miller would have shied away from all of the attention. Monroe County District Attorney E. David Christine said, "Guys like him and Trooper Lombardo enjoy the job they do, not any type of acknowledgment for it."
The Public Safety Medal of Valor is an exceptionally rare and prestigious honor. Since it was first awarded in 2003, less than 80 people have earned it.