Two Tennessee Correctional Officers to Receive National Corrections Medal of Honor Award in Washington D.C.

Two Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) Correctional Officers were selected to receive national awards, the department recently announced in a press release.

Corporal Leon Odom and Corporal Anthony Gaudet have been selected by One Voice United to receive the National Corrections Medal of Honor Award. Cpl. Odom has been named the Silver Medal honoree while Cpl. Gaudet will receive the Bronze Medal.

The men will be formally recognized on May 12th at the Medal of Honor awards banquet during National Law Enforcement Week in Washington, D.C.

“We’re incredibly proud of Corporals Anthony Gaudet and Leon Odom, who represent both TDOC and the field of corrections with bravery, courage, and distinction,” TDOC wrote in a tweet.

In addition to the awards banquet, Cpl. Odom and Cpl. Gaudet will receive:

  • Round Trip Airfare for Two (2) to Washington D.C. for the event
  • Hotel Accommodations for 3 Days and 2 Nights
  • Transportation to and from Event
  • $250 Visa Gift Card
  • Medal of Honor Medallion
  • Facility & Individual Honoree Plaque
  • Commemorative Medal of Honor Apparel/Gift

Cpl. Odom, who works at the Northeast Correctional Complex (NECX) in Mountain City, was nominated for his heroic actions to save the lives of a family involved in a car accident on April 9th, 2021, according to TDOC. While returning home from dinner, Corporal Odom watched as an out-of-control vehicle crossed a highway median and struck two trees before bursting into flames.

Cpl. Odom immediately rushed to the burning vehicle where he found the female driver unconscious, and her 4-year-old twin daughters trapped in their car seats. Without concern for his own safety, Cpl. Odom jumped into the backseat of the burning vehicle and began cutting the car seat with a knife in order to rescue the first child.

Despite the intense fire, Cpl. Odom returned to the vehicle for a second time to retrieve the second child, just as the car seat was beginning to melt. After getting the second child to safety, Cpl. Odom again returned to the vehicle to rescue the mother. All three victims and Cpl. Odom sustained severe burns but have since made a full recovery.

Cpl. Gaudet, of the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg, was nominated after the heroic actions he took to save a woman’s life on December 5th, 2021, according to TDOC.

While out on a Sunday drive, Cpl. Gaudet noticed a car partially submerged in a nearby lake. Fearing someone may be trapped inside, Cpl. Gaudet’s immediate response was to stop his truck, empty his pockets, and jump into the frigid waters. After swimming to the car, Cpl. Gaudet noticed a woman inside and rushed to rescue her just as the vehicle was beginning to sink.

As Cpl. Gaudet got the woman safely to the water’s edge, the vehicle tipped forward and sank to the bottom. When asked why he would risk his life to save a stranger, Gaudet replied that as an officer, his life is devoted to serving the public, even if it means putting himself in harm’s way.

The driver was taken to the local medical center for treatment, where Officer Gaudet greeted her with a bouquet of flowers and a get-well card.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.



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