Homage to heroes

A group of heroes was recognized Tuesday afternoon by the American Red Cross at the 51st annual Heroes of the Heartland Luncheon at Willow Ridge.

They ranged from ordinary citizens who stepped up during a moment of crisis to law enforcement officers who serve their community on a daily basis and in the case of one, Rockwell City Police Officer Jamie Buenting, made the ultimate sacrifice.

Buenting was killed in the line of duty on Sept. 13, 2013 during a regional Special Emergency Response Team call out.

He was nominated by Shawn Schossow, currently a criminal justice major at Simpson College and Rockwell City native.

“He was my mentor in my path to joining law enforcement also a great friend,” Schossow wrote in his nomination, “He was the officer everyone came to respect.”

Buenting’s wife, Mandy, accepted the posthumous award. Their children, Kalie, 8, and Ethan, “Almost 10” stood with her.

“It’s wonderful for his work to be recognized,” she said.

She is happy that both the public and the law enforcement community continue to support them.

“I want to thank everybody that came,” she said. “Me and his children are very proud.”

Another member of the law enforcement community, Fort Dodge Police Sgt. Joel Lizer, was recognized for his work in getting a family out of their home at 714 Third Ave. N.

Lizer, while on patrol looking for a burglary suspect, spotted fire coming from the home. He was able to wake the family and get them out.

He was nominated by Police Chief Tim Carmody.

“Due to his immediate action, all six occupants were safely evacuated,” Carmody wrote.

Lizer was quick to credit those who helped him that night.

“It’s our job,” he said. “The team that’s behind me, the other officers, the firefighters and the emergency medical personnel. You know they have your back.”

He’s also quick to recognize the Red Cross and their efforts to help the victims of the fire.

“Kudos to the Red Cross,” he said.

Bob Kirschbaum, resource officer for the Greater Northwest Iowa Area of the Red Cross said that there has been an increase in the number of fires the organization has been asked to assist with.

“Last year we served about 12 fires,” he said. “This year, we’ve services nearly 12 already.”

He’s quick to credit those who help.

“It’s a great group of volunteers,” he said. “They just step up.”

Becky Morris, who was also recognized with an award Tuesday, was one of those who found themselves in a bad situation – and just did what was right.

Morris, of Manson, was nominated by Joline Schulze who’s late husband, Dean Schulze, was given CPR by Morris when he collapsed in a cornfield.

In her nomination, she thanked Morris for being there, “So he did not have to die in a corn field by himself.”

Morris is credited with not giving up.

“Becky would not stop with the CPR even after help arrived and she fell to the ground from exhaustion,” Schultze wrote.

The final awards were given to Gus Macke and his daughter-in-law Krissy Macke, of Lake City for their efforts to help Kim Kraft and her husband Tony Pierson after a fire destroyed their Lake City home and killed three of their children and a grandchild.

They were nominated by Merle Chamberlain, chairman of the Brushy Creek chapter board.

He said that Gus Macke made a home he owns available to them rent free and that along with Krissy Macke, began an effort to gather furnishings, clothing, money and other essential items.

“Nothing can make up for the loss of children and grandchildren,” Chamberlain wrote. “But through the efforts of the Mackes, the Piersons were afforded some of the basic essentials to enable them to grieve through their loss and begin the long healing process.”