BY BOB KALINOWSKI and JAMES HALE, Times-Shamrock Writers
HERSHEY – It was a big day for area state troopers at the Pennsylvania State Police annual awards ceremony.
Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Jeffrey B. Miller last Wednesday, June 18, presented Tunkhannock barracks-based Troopers William Gross of Hughestown and Robert Rogers of Dallas with the Medal of Honor, the department’s highest honor and an award given to only 49 troopers in history.
And Miller awarded Trooper Truman Brandt of Dallas with a Purple Heart.
“The world will never have enough heroes, but we’re grateful for the ones we have,” Miller said during the ceremony at the State Police Academy in Hershey.
Gross, 40, and Rogers, 39, earned the award for saving Brandt’s life when his cruiser burst into flames during a collision in Lake Township in May 2007. Brandt was coming to assist fellow troopers on a pursuit when the fleeing vehicle crashed into his cruiser head-on along Route 29. The wreck rendered Brandt unconscious and trapped him inside.
With the help of Pennsylvania Game Commission official Dennis Dobinick, the Troop P, Tunkhannock-based troopers fought through intense smoke and flames to extricate Brandt from the vehicle.
“I was proud to be part of God’s plan to be there that day,” Rogers said Wednesday.
Brandt, 39, based at Troop P, Wyoming, sustained critical injuries and continues to rehabilitate.
“Having watched the in-car camera … It’s unbelievable to me Trooper Brandt was able to survive,” Miller said.
The crowd gathered for the ceremony gave Brandt a standing ovation.
“I can only accept this today because those three fellows saved my life,” he said.
Dobinick, a Lehman Township firefighter, won the Outstanding Citizenship Award.