Farmingdale National Guard Soldiers Receive New York Valor Medal
Soldiers assisted in rescues on Long Island as Hurricane Sandy struck New York
LATHAM, NY (05/02/2013)(readMedia)-- Three New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Farmingdale-- who braved Hurricane Sandy's rising flood waters and saved eight people-- have been awarded the New York State Medal of Valor.
On the night of October 29, 2012, the Soldiers--Sgt. Kenny Bharose, Sgt. 1st Class Israel Mahadeo and Sgt. Michael Palopoli-- drove, waded and swam through rising water and fierce wind without regard for their own safety as Hurricane Sandy struck Long Island .
Two additional Soldiers from Western New York--Sergeant Brandan Voss and Specialist Isaac Wieboldt --also received the award for their actions on Long Island that night.
"These men risked their own lives for the welfare of their fellow citizens as they worked in treacherous conditions to save others," said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York. "These Citizen Soldiers exhibited the drive, determination, selfless service, and dedication to duty New Yorkers have come to expect from the men and women who serve in the New York National Guard."
The men were part of two separate teams who aided local firefighters and police as the storm came ashore. Between them the Soldiers helped 28 of their fellow citizens, ranging in age from an infant to an 87-year old woman, escape from their flooded houses in Island Park and Long Beach.
Along with wind and water, the Soldiers were forced to deal with stalled vehicles, downed power lines, and in one case they assisted in evacuating people from a burning building. They also faced the possible threat of electrocution from downed power lines.
"All of the 4,500 National Guard Soldiers and Airmen who responded to the governor's call when Hurricane Sandy hit did their duty, but these four Soldiers went above and beyond the call of duty and risked their own lives to help others," Murphy said. " They exemplify what a Citizen Soldiers should be."
Mahadeo, Bharose, and Paplopoli who are members of Company F of the 427th Brigade Support Battalion stationed at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center, were dispatched to check on residents of the Long Beach area and help them evacuate if necessary. A Nassau County Police officer flagged down their truck and asked them to assist in rescuing a family, with a baby, from rising flood waters.
The trio headed for the house, rescuing two men along the way. When they reached the flooding building the water was five feet deep and they were prepared to swim to the house if necessary. They rescued a mother, her infant, and three young boys from the building and moved them to a safe location.
Sgt. Michael Paplopoli, who could not attend the Albany ceremony, will receive his Medal of Valor at a later date.
Voss and Wieboldt, members of the 105th Military Police Company in Buffalo, had just arrived at the Farmingdale Armed Forces Reserve Center at 3 p.m. on Oct. 29 after a two-day convoy move from Western New York as part of the New York National Guard's Initial Response Force. The two Soldiers, along with two other Soldiers, were dispatched with two humvees to assist the Island Park Fire Department at 6:30 p.m. as Sandy hit.
Reporting into Fire Chief Anthony D'Esposito the Guardsmen almost immediately accompanied the chief to check out the report of a fire raging amidst the flood. When they arrived at the burning house they dismounted their vehicles and began going door-to-door in the four –and-a-half foot deep water, alerting residents and helping them into a truck driven by members of the fire department.
Despite the frigid water, fast-moving debris, and downed power lines the military policeman stuck with the job all night, assisting in rescuing at least 20 local residents.
The New York State Medal of Valor is the most prestigious New York State military award. Service members honored with the Medal of Valor must display personal bravery or self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty and demonstrate "for gallantry and intrepidity above all comrades."
The act must involve personal risk of life or a performance of more than ordinarily hazardous service.
Sgt. 1st Class Israel Mahadeo:
Sgt. 1st Class Israel Mahadeo was born in Trinidad and Tobago and currently lives in Farmingdale with his wife Radha and teenage sons Marrion and Timothy.
Mahadeo, age 39, move to the United States in 1992 and joined the New York Army National Guard in December of that year. He deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 with the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry and was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his contributions to the mission there. He is a member of Company F of the 427th Brigade Support Battalion.
Mahadeo is employed as a dual status technician with the New York Army National Guard, working as a civilian employee during the week and serving with his unit during regular training.
Sergeant Kenny Bharose:
Sgt. Kenny Bharose, was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the United States in 1996. He joined the New York Army National Guard in 2007 and serves as a full-time technician with Company F of the 427th Brigade Support Battalion.
Bharose, age 47, lives in Long Beach and has a teenage son who lives in Trinidad.
Sergeant Michael Palopoli:
Sgt. Michael Palopoli served for six years in the Florida Army National Guard before joining the New York Army National Guard in the summer of 2008 as a Motor Transport Operator. Palopoli, age 29, lives in Manhattan and serves as the full-time training NCO for Company F, 427th Brigade Support Battalion.
He is a veteran of Operation Noble Eagle, a post- 9/11 mission to secure critical locations-- deploying to Fort Stewart, Ga. and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. in 2003.