Seven Watertown first responders who put their lives on the line during the shootout with the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects received the nation’s ultimate honor Wednesday.
Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder awarded the Medal of Valor to five Watertown Police officers and two Watertown Firefighters at a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, according to an Associated Press report.
“You’re a rare breed,” Biden said to the recipients. “You’re all crazy. We love you for it. We need you. You are the best thing we have going for us.”
Watertown Police Sgt. John MacLellan, Sgt. Jeffrey Pugliese, Officer Joseph Reynolds, Officer Timothy Menton and Officer Miguel Colon Jr. received the medals.
Reynolds was the first officer to make contact with the Tsarnaev brothers, who began shooting at him. MacLellan quickly arrived, followed by Menton and Colon. Pugliese had been at the Police Station filling out paperwork and sped to the scene in his family minivan, then flanked the suspects by running through backyards.
Firefighters James Caruso and Patrick Menton also received Medals of Valor for their work saving MBTA Police Officer Dic Donohue, who was critically injured in the shoutout.
The Medal of Valor are the highest national award for public safety officers and to to those who risk their own safety to save or protect others. Only a few police officers and firefighters receive the award, which was created in 2001.
This year 22 medals were awarded, for acts during 2011-2013, and 95 have been given out since it was created by Congress in 2001, according to the AP.