Four Honolulu police officers and a private citizen were presented with the Honolulu Police Department’s Medal of Valor Wednesday. They were among 31 officers and citizens recognized at a ceremony at the Mission Memorial Auditorium.
The Bronze Medal of Valor (the department’s third highest award) was presented to Officers Grant Mochizuki, Aaron Watanabe, Stephen Kardash and Edmund Ho. The Civilian Medal of Valor was awarded to Spencer Hafoka.
On Thanksgiving Day 2013, Officers Mochizuki and Watanabe were sent to the Queen Emma overpass and arrived to see a distraught woman sitting on the overpass with her legs dangling over the edge. The two officers cautiously approached the woman, climbed over the guardrail and managed to simultaneously pull her back from the edge. As a precaution, Officers Steven Lee, Joshua Charles, and Nicholas Pannoni had stopped traffic on the freeway below. The three officers received Letters of Commendation for their actions.
In November 2013, Officers Stephen Kardash and Edmund Ho risked their lives to rescue a man who had begun climbing over the railing of an eight-story apartment building on Kinau St. The man fought the officers’ efforts, but they prevailed and managed to pull him to safety.
Hafoka was working as a recreation specialist in December when he saw a snorkeler struggling in high surf and rough water near Turtle Bay Resort. By the time he reached the woman, she had been pulled under the water. Despite the rough conditions, Hafoka was able to find her and pull her to the surface. Alex Origel assisted him in carrying the unresponsive swimmer to shore and performing CPR. Origel was given the department’s Civilian Certificate of Merit for his efforts in the rescue.