Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday will host a ceremony honoring recipients of the Medal of Valor, the highest national honor for public safety officers.
Eighteen recipients of the award will be recognized at Wednesday’s ceremony, the White House announced, including Wildlife Officer Michael Neal, who in 2010 helped thwart a deadly rampage by two members of the sovereign citizen movement in West Memphis, Ark.
The White House announcement detailed Neal’s heroism:
On May 20, 2010, Officer Neal answered a call for assistance after two West Memphis Police officers had been shot and killed during a traffic stop along Interstate 40, and engaged two suspects in the Walmart parking lot. The two suspects were engaged in a firefight with Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief Deputy W. A. Wren. The Sheriff and Deputy, armed with only handguns, were taking fire from an AK-47 assault rifle and a handgun.
Officer Neal used his truck to ram the suspects’ van to prevent the suspects from being mobile and possibly harming innocent bystanders, and to divert the suspects’ attention away from the Sheriff and Deputy. Once Officer Neal rammed the suspects’ van, the suspects opened fire on Officer Neal’s truck, firing several rounds through his windshield. Officer Neal avoided being hit by the AK-47 rounds and returned fire with his issued AR-15. He disabled the driver and possibly the passenger before putting his truck in reverse and backing out of the line of fire so other officers could continue the firefight. Both suspects were pronounced dead at the scene. By putting himself in harm’s way, Officer Neal’s actions undoubtedly saved the lives of Sheriff Busby and Deputy Wren, both of whom were injured by the suspects. Officer Neal was only slightly injured.