Berlin, MA Heroes Honored for Courageous Response to April Explosion

Berlin, MA — A city renowned for its rich history and vibrant culture recently celebrated the valor of its own residents during a poignant ceremony marking the 22nd anniversary of the September 11 attacks. In a touching display of appreciation for their selfless actions, four individuals from Berlin were bestowed with the prestigious Madeline “Amy” Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery. The accolade, presented by Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll, stands as a testament to the indomitable spirit and courage of Brian and Dylan Clemmer, Bobby Wheeler, and Jonathan Golas.

This award, named in honor of Amy Sweeney, an American Airlines flight attendant tragically lost during the September 11, 2001 attacks, is a cherished recognition of civilians who have demonstrated exceptional valor in the face of imminent peril. Their unwavering dedication to saving lives and protecting their community has earned them a place among Berlin’s most esteemed heroes.

The backdrop to this commendable recognition is a heart-wrenching incident that unfolded on April 14 at 71 Pleasant St. in Berlin. A catastrophic explosion ravaged the property, claiming the life of Judith A. “Judy” Christensen, aged 79, and leaving her daughter, Jill, severely injured. Investigations later revealed that the explosion had been caused by a propane leak in the home’s basement, igniting due to an undetermined source.

Amidst the chaos and devastation, Brian and Dylan Clemmer, Bobby Wheeler, and Jonathan Golas, along with the assistance of Police Officer Molly Plante, emerged as beacons of hope. Braving the dangers of an active fire and a structurally unstable environment, these remarkable individuals undertook a search and rescue mission that would prove to be the difference between life and death.

Their valiant efforts culminated in the discovery of Jill Christensen, buried beneath the debris, her life hanging in the balance. With unwavering determination, they rescued her from the perilous situation and carried her to safety, mere moments before a second explosion rocked the scene. Their courage and quick thinking exemplified the finest qualities of heroism in the face of adversity.

While presenting the award, Lieutenant Governor Kimberley Driscoll commented, “Confronted with the peril of a live fire in a dangerous building, their brave choice to conduct a search and rescue operation became the decisive factor in saving lives. Let their actions, along with those of the 9/11 community, serve as a source of inspiration for us to live lives deeply dedicated to serving our fellow residents.”

It is worth noting that Brian and Dylan Clemmer, Bobby Wheeler, and Molly Plante had previously been acknowledged by the Berlin Police and Fire/EMS in April for their extraordinary bravery. Their actions, however, have now garnered the recognition they deserve on a broader scale.

The nominations for these outstanding individuals were put forward by Berlin’s Fire Chief Michael McQuillen and Police Chief Eric Schartner. A select committee, the Madeline Amy Sweeney Award for Civilian Bravery Selection Committee, chaired by Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, carefully assessed and acknowledged their exceptional valor.

In honoring Brian and Dylan Clemmer, Bobby Wheeler, and Jonathan Golas, Berlin not only recognizes their heroic deeds but also underscores the enduring spirit of unity and resilience that defines the city. These individuals exemplify the values of courage, selflessness, and community service that inspire us all to be better citizens.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *