Soldier Who Died in Bronx Fire to Receive Soldier’s Medal
PFC Emmanuel Mensah, 28, was home on leave for Christmas from the New York Army National Guard, when a massive fire broke out on his Bronx apartment building. He was an immigrant from the African nation of Ghana, and excited to be a part of the US military. But on December 28, his desire to save more lives ended in tragedy for his own. He will be posthumously awarded the Soldier’s Medal, as well as the New York Medal for Valor.
He joined the National Guard in 2016, and had completed his Advanced Individual Training. He was slated to begin training with the 107th Military Police Company in January.
As the flames licked at the hallways and doors, Mensah told one person to stay in the apartment away from the door. That man was rescued by firefighters. But PFC Mensah went out into the inferno to save 4 people, and succumbed to the fire on his last trip. The NYPD detecties said that the placement of his remains told them that he had tried one last time to save others.
The fire started when a young child was playing with a gas stove. As the family fled their apartment, they left the door open, which caused the fire to spread abnormally fast. We reported the incident previously.
The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest non-combat award for heroism.
“Our command recognized the appropriate nature of Pfc. Mensah’s actions and took immediate steps, as early as December 30, to capture statements regarding this young soldier’s actions and worked with Army leaders to process the award submission as quickly as we could.” Email from New York Army National Guard to the Army Times
Even though Chuck Schumer lobbyed for the award, the National Guard stated that they had already planned for it. Secretary of the Army Mark Esper approved the medal on January 1.
“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.” Official citation
Governor Cuomo approved the New York State Medal of Valor, the state’s highest military honor, on January 2. The medal is for acts of heroism both on and off the battlefield.
According to the Army Times, “The Guard official confirmed that no public announcement was made of either award while the command worked with the Mensah family to ‘determine their desire for appropriate honors when we say farewell to him.'”
“I knew from the moment I met him his heart was as big as our National Guard family. He was ready to serve our nation and community. Pfc. Mensah was the embodiment of what our Army Values stand for.”Staff Sgt. Ruben Martinez-Ortiz