Oklahomans Awarded Congressional Badge of Bravery
Washington, D.C. – During a ceremony last week in Oklahoma City, four Oklahomans were awarded the Congressional Badge of Bravery, which is a special award that recognizes incredible acts of bravery performed by federal, state and local law enforcement officers. The event honored Postal Inspector Brian Hess and Deputy U.S. Marshals Travis Sutterfield, Jermaine Vaughn and Callen Stephens for their tremendous acts of heroism while responding to a fugitive situation in May 2018. Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) and Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (OK-05) both attended the April 7 award presentation honoring their constituents along with U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington and Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale.
“I was incredibly proud to join in honoring four Oklahoma law enforcement officers, including my constituents Postal Inspector Brian Hess and Deputy U.S. Marshal Jermaine Vaughn, who performed their duties valiantly in the face of danger,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “Amid a violent situation, they acted fast and selflessly risked their own lives to protect innocent bystanders. They are certainly deserving recipients of the Congressional Badge of Honor. Our communities, state and nation are eternally grateful for their service.”
“The actions of these brave officers speaks to the very reason the Congressional Badge of Bravery exists – every day they put their lives on the line to protect others,” said Congresswoman Stephanie Bice. “They are truly deserving of this honor and I was pleased to pay tribute to each of them, including my constituents, Deputy U.S. Marshals Travis Sutterfield and Callen Stephens.”
“Brian Hess, Travis Sutterfield, Jermaine Vaughn and Callen Stephens risked their lives for our nation in a profound way on May 17, 2018, and it is only right they receive the Congressional Badge of Bravery,” Senator James Inhofe said. “They showed true fortitude that day and I am thankful to call them fellow Oklahomans. It is a privilege to honor each of you in this way. Thank you for your service.”
“The brave and selfless contributions of our Marshals was essential to maintain our peace in this dangerous situation, and it is right that they be recognized for their valor with the Congressional Badge of Bravery,” said Senator James Lankford. “Thank you for your devotion to duty and for continuing to stand on the front lines to defend Oklahoma families and communities every day.”
“The deputies we recognize today with the Congressional Badge of Bravery demonstrated courage, and they did it instinctively,” said Director of the U.S. Marshals Service, Donald J. Washington. “Each of them will tell you, very humbly, the same thing -- they were just doing their jobs. They were doing what they had to do, what they were trained to do, like any other day. That sense of duty and purpose is what these deputies embody. But because of their courage, lives were saved, and their community was kept safe and free from a dangerous criminal. They put others’ safety before their own, and through their example of public service exhibited what it truly means to be a public servant – to put their lives on the line to defend the lives of those who they swore to serve and protect. Brave and selfless, and they are worthy of this badge.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is proud of the heroism exhibited by Postal Inspector Brian Hess and the three U.S. Marshals honored with the Congressional Badge of Bravery,” Chief Postal Inspector Gary Barksdale said. “We are proud to salute them for the exceptional work they demonstrated under pressure. Postal Inspector Hess exemplifies the character of Postal Inspectors across our organization and their steadfast commitment of serving the public and ensuring their safety and well-being, as well as that of their fellow officers.”
“It is my honor and privilege to serve alongside the men and women of the U.S. Marshals Service who perform courageous acts on a daily basis across our great nation. But to personally know these recipients and participate in this ceremony, truly highlights their bravery, integrity and commitment to justice for all. It also highlights the dangers that all law enforcement officers face every day in our country in their efforts to make our cities a safe place to live and raise our families. We truly owe them a debt of gratitude,” said U.S. Marshal for the Western District of Oklahoma Johnny Kuhlman.
Photos for media use from the event are available here.
Background on the Recipients
On May 17, 2018, members of the U.S. Marshals Service Metro Fugitive Task Force, including Deputy U.S. Marshals (DUSMs) Callen Stephens, Jermaine Vaughn and Travis Sutterfield and Postal Inspector Brian Hess, located a fugitive, wanted for dealing in counterfeit currency, driving his car in Noble, Oklahoma. The Task Force members conducted a rolling surveillance and then elected to conduct a felony traffic stop. The fugitive attempted to flee, traveling at high speed, going south in the northbound lane. After several minutes, the fugitive parked his vehicle at an angle in the road, exited while holding an AR-15 style rifle and immediately began firing at the task force members.
Multiple task force vehicles were struck with gunfire, including one round through the driver's headrest of DUSM Sutterfield's vehicle. Nevertheless, he was able to exit his vehicle and return fire while avoiding being struck by gunfire. DUSM Sutterfield was later treated for glass shrapnel to the face, a shoulder injury and two knee injuries.
Risking death or serious injury, task force members engaged the fugitive in an exchange of multiple rounds of gunfire, until the fugitive was wounded. DUSM Vaughn immediately began to provide medical care to the fugitive while Supervisory DUSM Stephens provided supervision and support. An ambulance transported the fugitive to the Norman Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Upon the search of the fugitive and his vehicle, a Glock 9mm with two 30-round magazines and an improvised explosive device were located.
Each task force member displayed an exceptional level of valor while facing multiple rounds of direct gunfire that day. Their courageous actions brought to a swift conclusion the fugitive's violent actions and prevented serious injury to other members of the community.