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MSHA News Release No. 95-028
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: (703) 235-1452

July 7, 1995


Three miners have been honored with safety awards by the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association. Jerry Maldonado, Dan Beam and Charlie Neece received this year's Medals of Honor for distinguished service for attempting to save the lives of fellow miners while incurring risk to their own lives.

Maldonado, who works for Evans Construction Company in Evans, Wyo., rescued co-worker Bob Myers on June 18, 1994, when the truck Myers was driving plunged into a pond. Maldonado dove into the pond, opened the truck's door and began rescue breathing while pulling Myers out and guiding him to shore. He continued rescue breathing until the rescue squad arrived. Despite Maldonado's heroic efforts, Myers died shortly thereafter.

Neece and Beam were honored for successfully steering several other miners to safety when a coal seal in the Meigs 31 coal mine in Southern Ohio broke and icy, raging waters threatened to trap them underground on July 11, 1993. The rescue was chronicled in an August 1994 article in Reader's Digest magazine.

J. Davitt McAteer, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health and president of the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association, congratulated this year's honorees. "Working in a mine presents extraordinary challenges every single day," said McAteer. "These three miners rose to the challenges. Their willingness to risk their own lives is a testament to their skill and courage."

The Holmes Association Medal of Honor is awarded to an individual who saved or attempted to save a life while incurring some risk upon his or her own life. The heroic act may or may not occur in the line of duty by an active or inactive employee of any branch of the mining and related industries.

Anyone meeting these criteria may be nominated for a medal of honor. A review committee comprised of members of the association makes the final selection.

Dr. Joseph A. Holmes was the first director of the U.S. Bureau of Mines. The Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association was established in 1916 by leading national mining organizations to conserve the lives of those working in mining through safety education and by recognizing and rewarding safe-work achievers. The awards program has been in placed since 1927.