68th Department of the Interior Convocation Ceremony Honors Employees, Volunteers for Distinguished Service

Last edited 09/05/2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar led today's 68th Department of the Interior Honor Awards Convocation at which 44 awards were presented to Department of the Interior employees and volunteers selected for their service to the department and to the nation.

“I'm privileged to recognize the many men and women who have served the Department of the Interior with acts of courage and valor this year, as well as those who have served the American public with excellence for many years,” Secretary Salazar said at today's event at the Stewart Lee Udall Department of the Interior Building.

The awards included the Distinguished Service Award, the Valor Award, the Citizens Award for Bravery, and the Safety and Occupational Health Safety Award of Excellence.

“From rescuing climbers on Mount Rainier, to protecting the health and safety of the public following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to developing a cutting-edge way to analyze earthquakes, these men and women are doing incredible work to advance Interior's missions and serve the American public,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes said. “It is an honor to recognize their contributions today.”

Today's honorees include:

  • Brian Hardison (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) was nominated for his contributions to the safety and occupational health of Department of the Interior employees and volunteers, visitors, and contractors during the response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig explosion and oil spill. As the FWS Southeast Region strike team spill coordinator, Mr. Hardison organized response efforts and was one of the first employees officially mobilized in the response that ultimately culminated in approximately 3,200 FWS personnel rotating through the response activities.


  • Dr. Raymond P. Buland (U.S. Geological Survey) demonstrated outstanding scientific insight, technical knowledge, and management skills as he designed and led a team that developed a cutting-edge computer-based system for rapid analysis of earthquake data. This system is the operational core of the USGS National Earthquake Information Center and is based on advanced concepts in seismology, pattern recognition and association, statistics, telecommunications, and software and hardware integration.



  • Patricia A. Butler (Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement) has, throughout her 34-year tenure, received numerous accolades in recognition of her exceptional contributions to the success of the Bureau's Equal Employment Opportunity program. Her accomplishments include the development of the Bureau's EEO Complaints Processing Standard Operating Procedures and establishing an EEO/Diversity training tracking system that is used to assess the Bureau's progress in meeting EEO and Diversity training requirements.



  • Anthony Reece and Kevorck Arackellian (National Park Service) conducted one of the most challenging rescues in the history of the North Cascades National Park Search and Rescue program. In July 2009, a party of four mountaineers were halfway up Mount Terror's North Buttress route when the lead climber fell and was left dangling upside down on the rope, semi-conscious with a femur fracture and head injury. During the rescue, Park Ranger Kevork Arackellian hung from a helicopter on a 100 foot short-haul line as Pilot Anthony Reece transported to the accident site. Ranger Arackellian rescued one climber before poor weather moved in and prevented the evacuation of the second stranded climber. After that climber had endured four days of rain and snow, trapped on Mount Terror's cliff, Pilot Anthony Reece and Ranger Kevork Arackellian returned and performed the same risky maneuver. Given the technical site of this rescue, a cliff with sheer rock walls above and below, there was no margin for error by either pilot or rescuer on this mission.


A full list of awards and descriptions of the employee and citizen honorees are available HERE.


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