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Officers and firefighters honored for heroism and bravery

Mayor Rahm Emanuel honors members Chicago Police Department Chicago Fire Department Annual Carter H. HarrisLambert Tree Award Ceremony.  Mayor

Mayor Rahm Emanuel honors members of the Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department at the Annual Carter H. Harrison and Lambert Tree Award Ceremony. Mayor Rahm Emanuel hugs Avril Nauden (5 years old), daughter of Chicago Police Officer Paul Nauden who received a Posthumous Special Honorable Mention award. Back row: Fire Chief Jose Santiago. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: November 11, 2012 6:26AM

Chicago Police Ofcr. Joseph Lopez was responding last year to a call of gunfire when he approached the SUV involved in the incident.

After a man hopped out suddenly and ran, Lopez gave chase.

The man turned, firing three times at Lopez, who raised his gun, saw citizens walking near the man and decided against firing it.

The chase continued into a gangway, where the man again turned a 9mm semi-automatic toward Lopez, who fatally shot him.

The eight-year veteran was among 19 officers and 12 firefighters honored for similar acts of heroism and bravery Tuesday — two officers, Paul Nauden and Clifton Lewis, posthumously.

Lopez was awarded the department’s Lambert Tree Award, the highest it gives, while the Fire Department’s highest, the Carter Harrison Award, went to six-year veteran Larrence McCormack.

“This is a solemn moment for the city . . . Today’s recipients have gone above and beyond the call of duty to protect Chicago’s neighborhoods and communities,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who with Police Supt. Garry McCarthy and Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago presented the awards in City Council chambers.

When firefighters responded to a fire in Englewood last year, one of McCormack’s crew became lost in a fire so bad an order was given to evacuate. But McCormack did not. He went back in.

Finding the injured firefighter, he singlehandedly dragged him out to other waiting firefighters. But the day didn’t end there.

Returning to the firehouse, another call came. Responding, McCormack’s crew found the hydrant didn’t work, and McCormakc and others went into the smoke with a hose for a search.

McCormack found a handicapped man unable to walk, trapped in his bed in the basement, again, singlehandedly dragging the man out.

“This is all more than I deserve,” the humble firefighter said. “I was just another spoke in the wheel. Both were possible only because each firefighter was in the right spot at the right time.”

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