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Letter Carriers' Heroes: A Safety Net of Service

Charlie Rose, a 23-year veteran Letter Carriers (NALC) member from Athens, Ohio, has sniffed out more than a dozen natural gas leaks in homes along his route, preventing what could have been deadly explosions. He was also the driving force behind the effort that convinced the city to replace more than 17,000 feet of aging gas pipeline and require carbon monoxide detectors in new rental units. For that, he was honored with the union’s Special Carrier Alert award. He was one of six NALC members recognized yesterday at ceremonies in Washington, D.C., as 2012 Heroes of the Year.

NALC President Fredric Rolando says carriers learn the ins and outs of neighborhoods and are often the first to know when something is amiss. He told USA Today:

You're always in the right place at the right time. All kinds of stuff happens and it happens on your watch. You react not because you're Superman, but because you're there. It's like you have a corps of guardian angels out there.

Rose said, “We're not only letter carriers. We're also like a safety net of service."

If we see something out of the ordinary, hear something or, in my case, smell something, we're going to say something.   

Charlie Logue from Cape Atlantic, N.J., was named National Hero of the Year. He was at the beach with his family on Father’s Day when he saw an 8-year-old boy being dragged away from shore by a rip current. Running into the breaking waves, Logue swam to the boy, grabbed him, escaped the current and swam to shore.    

Others honored were:

  • Mike Hollmann III of Phoenix, the Western Region Hero recipient, was on his route one Saturday when he noticed a woman lying on the ground near her wheelchair being attacked by three angry pit bulls. Scaling to the top of a fence, Hollmann distracted the dogs until police came.
  • Mike Sylvester of Duluth, Minn., the Central Region Hero recipient, saved lives after an automobile hit a house, rupturing the gas line to the house and leaving the car smoking and its fuel tank punctured.
  • Celia Ruiz of Virginia Beach, Va., the Eastern Region Hero recipient, observed her neighbor’s children thrown airborne after being struck by a drunk driver and applied CPR.
  • Cassandra Summers of Naperville, Ill., the Humanitarian of the Year recipient, founded a non-profit group to redecorate the rooms of breast cancer patients.

The late cartoonist Bil Keane, whose “Family Circus” artwork promoted the NALC’s annual “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive for many years, was posthumously awarded the first Legacy Award.

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