Lebanon man awarded the Army Award for Valor
SWEET HOME, Ore. (KPTV)-- Nearly a year and a half after a Lebanon man helped keep the Detroit dam operating during the Beachie Creek fire the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave him the Army Award for Valor, Tuesday.
Mike Pomeroy was awarded the medal at his new place of work, the Foster Dam in Sweet Home. Pomeroy humbly accepted the honor with his family by his side. An award he never expected.
“This is amazing,” Pomeroy said. “Certainly, unlooked for. I didn’t know anything about it.”
Pomeroy was working inside the Detroit Dam powerhouse as the Beachie Creek fire marched through the Santiam Canyon in September of 2020. Trapped inside, he spent 30 hours keeping the dam in operation.
“There were a lot of thoughts,” Pomeroy said. “We were trying to protect the river, we were trying to protect the environment, trying to protect me, I was trying to plan just in case of any other refugees I did not know. So, I was trying to prepare for all of those different eventualities.”
Colonel Mike Helton is the Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Portland district and Pomeroy’s direct boss. He said Pomeroy’s actions not only helped keep water flowing, but he also helped avoid another disaster.
“If he weren’t there, the vehicles could’ve been fuel for the fire that was parked right next to transformers,” Colonel Helton said. “That could’ve gone up in flames. Oil could’ve leaked out into the river impacting water supply downstream as well.”
Pomeroy said he doesn’t like to focus on the night the fire broke out. Instead, he said like to think about what will come out of the ashes the Beachie Creek Fire left behind.
“What I remember a lot is the last time I went up there,” Pomeroy said. “There was green again, there was a lot of construction and building and that’s what I like. That’s what I would like to remember.”
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