Christopher Burnett | Staff Writer
Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, presented three awards for heroism March 17 to Munson Army Health Center personnel at the Lewis and Clark Center.
The Soldier’s Medal was awarded to Sgt. Jeremy Dahlen, and the Secretary of the Army Award for Valor was presented to Deanne Kilian and Dr. Adela Ganacias in recognition of their vital roles in responding to an incident at MAHC Sept. 7, 2016.
Allyn said the Army doesn’t often stop and put the spotlight on individual efforts. He said this is because the Army is the ultimate team-oriented pro- fession.
“When the Army takes the opportunity to recognize individuals, it is for tremendous occasions like this one,” Allyn said. “It is very humbling for me to represent to all of you in attendance, all of our Army and a grateful nation in formally acknowledging these extraordinary actions of courage.”
The award citation said Dahlen, Kilian and Ganacias showed utter disregard for their personal safety and well-being while coming to the aid of 1st Lt. Katie Ann Blanchard, an Army Nurse Corps officer, who was attacked by an armed assailant.
Allyn said his definition of courage for the latter half of his career is simple.
“Courage is simply doing your duty, no matter the conditions,” Allyn said. “For those of us in uniform, we get that. These awardees exemplify such courage.”
Allyn commended Dahlen, Kilian and Ganacias for taking quick action to help Blanchard. He specifically cited Kilian, a retired lieutenant colonel, for what he called a demonstration of a “soldier for life” attitude and bearing.
“These three exemplars gave all expected of them and more on September 7th,” Allyn said. “Their actions make me proud to serve alongside them as teammates in our profession.”
Dahlen, a practical nurse, came upon the ongoing attack after responding to the scene following the activation of the MAHC facility fire detection system. He pulled the armed assailant off of Blanchard and away from Kilian and Ganacias. Dahlen then disarmed the attacker. His actions allowed additional personnel to respond to Blanchard’s medical needs.
“Sergeant Dahlen mentioned that the highlight of his career was serving as a combat medic in the 10th Mountain Division,” Allyn said. “He was very quick to assure me that (he had transitioned to his current job with the Army as a nurse practitioner and) he’s proud to be a part of Team Munson and proud to have had the opportunity to serve Lieutenant Blanchard and to service with these shared heros we have here today.”
Kilian, a pediatrics nurse practitioner, and Ganacias, a pediatrics physician, physically struggled to restrain the assailant and repelled his continued attempts to harm Blanchard until additional MAHC staff members responded to subdue the attacker. Even after sustaining injuries, Kilian and Ganacias continued to provide initial emergency interventions for Blanchard.
Page 2 of 2 - “We were in the right place at the right time to do the right thing,” Kilian said. “We were all blessed.”
Another awards ceremony Jan. 18 at the Frontier Chapel on post recognized 41 people and two organizations for actions they took during and after the incident. Blanchard and her husband, Maj. Troy Hokanson, attended both awards ceremonies.
Clifford Currie, 54, was charged Sept. 8, 2016, in U.S. District Court with one count of assault with intent to commit murder.
Currie allegedly threw gasoline or some other flammable liquid on Blanchard and lit her on fire. Currie also allegedly attacked Blanchard with a straight razor and scissors, according to the court’s news release and the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Currie could face 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to a news release from the office of acting-U.S. Attorney Tom Beall.