BRONX, N.Y. (02/14/2018) (readMedia)-- The family of New York Army National Guard Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah, the Soldier who died while saving lives during a massive apartment house fire in the Bronx on Dec. 28, will receive two valor medals posthumously during a ceremony on Friday morning, Feb. 16 at Fordham University's Keating Hall.
The Mensah family will receive the Soldiers Medal, the Army's top award for valor outside of combat, and the New York State Medal for Valor, the state's highest military award.
New York City fire officials credit Mensah with saving four lives, rescuing people three times before he returned to the building and did not come out.
WHO: Lt. General Lieutenant General Timothy J. Kadavy , director of the Army National Guard; Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields, Commander of the New York Army National Guard; Kwabena O. Mensah, father of Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah and other Mensah family members.
WHAT: Presentation of posthumous awards for bravery to the family of New York Army National Guard Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah.
WHEN: 11 a.m. Friday, February 16, 2018
WHERE: Keating Hall, Constitution Row, Rose Hill Campus, Fordham University, Bronx NY 10458.
Imagery of the award presentation to the Mensah family. Potential interviews with Soldiers, leaders and representatives of the Mensah family.
For access to the award presentation, news media must contact the New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs Public Affairs Office no later than 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 518-786-4581. This ensures that Fordham security will allow access to the building.
On scene New York National Guard Public Affairs Officer will be Col. Richard Goldenberg at 518-727-7314.
The Soldiers Medal
The Soldier's Medal is the Army's highest award for heroism that occurs outside of combat. Major General Raymond Shields, commander of the New York Army National Guard, will present the medal to the Mensah family. Secretary of the Army Mark T. Esper approved the posthumous award of the Soldier's Medal for Mensah on Jan. 1, 2018.
"Private 1st Class Mensah's heroic actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of military heroism and selfless service and reflect great credit upon himself, the New York Army National Guard and the United States Army," the award citation says.
The New York State Medal for Valor
The New York State Medal for Valor is the highest New York State military honor. Gov. Andrew Mr. Cuomo approved the award, New York State's highest military award presented for acts of heroism on and off the battlefield, on Jan. 2, 2018.
"His courageous and selfless act in the face of unimaginable conditions are consistent with the highest traditions of uniformed service and deserving of the highest possible recognition," his citation says.
Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah
Mensah, who enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in December 2016, had completed his Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lee, Va., in early December 2017 and intended to serve as a wheeled vehicle mechanic prior to his death.
He was slated to begin drilling with the New York Army National Guard's 107th Military Police Company in January 2018. The 107th Military Police Company is based at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn. Mensah was still assigned to Company A of the New York Army National Guard's Recruiting and Retention Battalion prior to joining the 107th MP Company.
His family immigrated to the United States from Ghana and Mensah was a permanent legal resident at the time of his enlistment. He became a naturalized United States Citizen on Sept. 21, 2017.
Twelve New York City residents died in the December 28 fire which began after 6:30 p.m. Fire department investigators say the blaze was started by a young boy playing with a gas stove. The fire spread after the child's family escaped the apartment and neglected to close the apartment door behind them, according to investigators.
Local media reports said the fire was the most destructive residential fire in the city in decades.
A Funeral Mass will be celebrated for Army Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah Saturday, Feb. 17, at 10 a.m., at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, the Bronx.
Burial will be at Wood Lawn Cemetery in the Bronx with military honors provided by the New York Army National Guard
Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy
Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, a three-star general, is the Director of the Army National Guard. He is responsible for providing policy guidance and federal oversight for the activities of the 340,000 members of the Army National Guard who serve in the 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia. Kadavy is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Major Gen. Raymond Shields
Major Gen. Raymond Shields, a two-star general, is the Commander of the New York Army National Guard's 10,300 men and women. He also serves as an Assistant Adjutant General reporting to the Adjutant General, Major General Anthony German. Shields is a veteran of the War in Afghanistan and previously served as the Director of Joint Staff for the New York National Guard, responsible for directing National Guard forces during state emergencies.