San Diego - Two local San Diegans return home this week after being honored Friday in Washington, D.C. with an Award for Meritorious Valor for running into a burning building to assist with residents' escape.
Anthony Williams, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection marine interdiction agent, and Edward Rydalch, a CBP officer, are currently both crew members of a marine anti-smuggling unit in San Diego.
At about 2 a.m. on May 18, 2009, while traveling for work, they spotted an apartment complex on fire near Oceanside, Calif.
Williams and Rydalch immediately called 911, and activated their vehicle's lights and siren to alert anyone nearby to the emergency. The two then entered the burning building and went door to door, knocking on doors and windows, waking residents to ensure that they were able to evacuate the building.
Their actions saved the lives of 50 residents, including two elderly people sleeping with their hearing aids turned off, and a mother with her two children.
During the CBP Award Ceremony, which took place at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., hundreds of employees gathered to recognize the hard work, dedication and achievements of the 2009 honorees.
The dedication for the award received by Williams and Rydalch states they are being honored: For selflessly entering an apartment complex engulfed in fire to alert the residents who were asleep and completely unaware their lives were in great peril.
"You need a certain amount of courage and valor just to sign up as a front-line law enforcement officer," said Bill Snyder, Port Director for the Port of San Diego. "For these two men, going above and beyond the call of duty is a normal occurrence."