Pelican Bay honors 13 of its officers

Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate

A ceremony was held at Pelican Bay State Prison last week to recognize 13 correctional officers who received awards from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for their service.

Twelve of the officers received the Medal of Valor, the department's highest award, for their response to an attack by two inmates against officers.

On Jan. 11, 2011, two inmates were being let out of their cell to go to an exercise yard when they attacked two correctional officers.

A third officer tried to stop the assaults and was also injured.

Other officers then responded, quelling the attacks with physical force and batons. Two inmate weapons, one metal and the other plastic, were recovered.

The officers receiving awards were Wesley Aanrud, Cecil Arispe, Nathan Bourdalaies, Byron Gardner, Paul Hicks Jr., Michael Johnson, Michael Knight, Clayton Maxwell, Hank Nichols, Thomas Sheets, Joshua Taylor and Sgt. Chuck Essex.

Correctional Officer Paul Davis received a Gold Star Medal, the department's second-highest honor, after he fought off an inmate during a riot at Deuel Vocational Institution.

On July 23, 2011, a riot broke out at that prison involving Hispanic and black inmates during their evening meal.

Davis was among the first to respond and was confronted by an inmate with a stabbing weapon. Davis ordered the inmate to the ground, but he instead began swinging his weapon at Davis.

Davis used his baton to knock down the inmate, but he got back up and continued swinging the weapon.

The inmate was knocked down again, but when he got up for the second time he switched his focus to another inmate, stabbing him several times.

Davis stopped the attack with a baton blow. He is a recent transfer to Pelican Bay.

"It is an honor and a privilege today to recognize individual acts of courage and heroism by staff members assigned to this institution," said Warden Greg Lewis during a Wednesday ceremony. "These individuals bring great credit to themselves, their families, Pelican Bay State Prison and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation."

Reach Anthony Skeens at .

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