Monday, March 28, 2016

Local Heroes: The Carnegie Medal Awarded to Sandusky Residents

Between 1904 and 1969, nine Sandusky area residents were awarded the Carnegie Medal for acts of extraordinary civilian heroism. The medal pictured above was awarded to Earl Thomas, who saved Rolland Smith, age 16, from drowning, after Rolland fell into deep water off the railroad bridge at Mills Creek. Though Thomas was not a good swimmer, he swam over thirty feet to bring Smith to safety, where both men were pulled out of the water by another young man. Though young Smith was unconscious, and Thomas suffered from exposure, both recovered. 

By performing a search for Sandusky, Ohio at the website of the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, you can read a brief summary of all the awardees who were from Sandusky. In 1904, William C. Brune saved George P. Pfanner from drowning. Another water rescue took place in 1905 when baker Henry Schiller saved Wendell B. Tussing from drowning while at Lakeside, Ohio. When the Mahala Block burned on November 18, 1909, George B. Knopf made his way to the top of the fourth floor building to rescue Emma Keyes from the fire.

On October 29, 1920, Harry May saved Martin Maier from being killed by a train. The locomotive was only two feet from the men when Harry pushed Martin to safety. Hilda Hertlein was only twelve years old when she lifted four year old Viola Poock off the track as a streetcar was approaching. In addition to the Carnegie Medal,  Hilda received $1,600.00, which she used towards her studies at Ohio State University. Henry Sherman Potter, Jr., was also quite young when he earned a Carnegie Medal. Henry was age thirteen, when he saved  ten year old Omar E. Meyer, Jr. from drowning, after Omar fell through the ice while skating on Sandusky Bay. Henry broke through the ice, and finally threw his sweater to Omar to help pull him to safety. An article about the heroic act of Henry Sherman Potter, Jr. appeared in the July, 1929 issue of Boys’ Life magazine. Omar E. Meyer, Jr. eventually became the owner and president of the local company O.E. Meyer & Sons. 

While in Lorain in 1932, William G. Lang saved twenty-two month old Leila Smith from being struck by a streetcar. While at the helm of the streetcar, Lang quickly applied the brakes and drastically reduced the speed, after which he grasped the toddler to safety. During a severe rainstorm on July 5, 1969, Larry E. Smith rescued LoRene Limbard from drowning, after she was trapped in a fruit cellar in her home after a basement wall collapsed. Two men outside the home helped Mrs. Limbard out a small basement window, after Smith helped her find her way to the window. As Larry Smith himself exited through the window, the water had risen to the ceiling light of the basement. Sandusky can be proud of the many heroic actions undertaken by these nine ordinary citizens who helped save others’ lives while risking their own life.

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