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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2004 > December
Press Statement
Richard Boucher, Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 20, 2004


Diplomatic Security Special Agents Receive Heroism Awards

On December 20, 2004, three Diplomatic Security special agents received the State Departmentís Heroism Award 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.

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."

Special agent Christopher R. Belmonti of Gurnee, Ill., was recognized for his courageous actions on February 27, 2004. Belmonti rescued a woman who had been attacked by a group of rebels. He risked his life to free the injured, bound woman from unknown assailants, taking her to receive medical attention.

Special agent Raymond Kyliavas of Huntsville, Ala., confronted an armed mob in the act of carjacking and preparing to kill a defenseless victim with a machete at a makeshift roadblock also on February 27, 2004 in Port-au-Prince. Kyliavas was the first to approach the mob, leveling his rifle at the group and yelling to get their attention. Once he got their attention, the mob members fled the scene, and the victim was released.

While providing protection for the newly sworn-in President of Haiti, Boniface Alexandre, special agent Alston A. Richardson of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, risked his life to provide tactical updates of a nearby gunfight between third parties that was mistaken for an attack on the president. Richardsonís selfless actions allowed his team members to avoid having to engage an unknown enemy and face a potentially deadly escape through sustained hostile fire.

These three special agents went beyond the call of duty, thinking not of themselves, but of the safety of others. We are proud they are part of the State Department and honor them for their outstanding service.

2004/1387


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