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St. Thomas Man one of Three to Receive State Department Heroism Awards

Dec. 21, 2004 – Three Diplomatic Security special agents received the State Department’s Heroism Award yesterday for their actions in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in February 2004.
The three agents are attached to the Office of Mobile Security Deployment, a specially trained unit that responds to security emergencies, especially in high-threat locations. The awards were presented by Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage at a ceremony at the Department of State, according to State Department materials.
While providing protection for the newly sworn-in President of Haiti, Boniface Alexandre, special agent Alston A. Richardson of St. Thomas risked his life to provide tactical updates of a nearby gunfight between third parties that was mistaken for an attack on the president. Richardson’s selfless actions allowed his team members to avoid having to engage an unknown enemy and face a potentially deadly escape through sustained hostile fire, the release said.
In his remarks, Deputy Secretary Armitage stated that at the time "Haiti was in flames; her cities exploding with rage…the situation had so deteriorated that we made the decision to evacuate our people. The three men we honor today were part of a team who carried out that order…The entire team went into a dangerous situation — one that was life-threatening on a daily basis."
Also honored were special agents Christopher R. Belmonti of Gurnee, Ill., and Raymond Kyliavas of Huntsville, Ala.

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