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Troopers Honored For Heroism

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KINSTON, N.C. — Bryan Beatty, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Crime Control and Public Safety, on Tuesday presented Trooper D.J. Cianfarra and Trooper M.A. Tribula with the department's highest award for bravery.

Beatty also awarded Sgt. W.B. Thaxton and Trooper R.G. Ezzell with the department's Commendation Award.

All troopers are pilots for the Highway Patrol stationed in Kinston.

"Sergeant Thaxton's, Trooper Ezzell's, Trooper Cianfarra's and Trooper Tribula's showed heroic actions without regard for their personal safety by entering the burning building after the explosion to search for injured persons," Beatty said. "They are to be commended for their unselfish acts of bravery."

On Jan. 29, 2003, Cianfarra, Tribula, Thaxton and Ezzell responded to the explosion at the West Pharmaceuticals plant. They instructed employees and observers to move away from the burning building.

Tribula and Cianfarra entered the building, which was dark and filled with smoke, and assisted several injured people as they exited out of the building.

Thaxton and Ezzell established an incident command site, which assisted with the evacuation of the building.

"All these troopers went above and beyond the normal call of duty on this occasion, and risked their lives in an attempt to possibly save others," said Col. Richard Holden, Highway Patrol commander. "This level of service exemplifies what it means to be a state trooper -- to serve others."