Skip to content

Medal of Valor issued to communities in Oso landslide

by caprecord

[slideshow_deploy id=’23074′]

As one-year anniversary of the devastating Oso landslide that killed 43 people approaches, lawmakers honored the local communities with a Medal of Valor for rescue, recovery and relief work.

The medals were presented Wednesday to Arlington, Darrington, Oso and the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe. The recognition was the first one ever issued to multiple people.

On the morning of March 22, 2014, a hillside near Oso gave way, pushing mud and debris into the Stillaguamish River and destroying more than 40 homes and other structures.

Dozens of people were injured or killed by the wall of mud, and many saw their homes destroyed and lives disrupted. Hundreds of rescuers, many of whom were from the immediate communities, arrived to help dig survivors and victims free from the mud, and help the community recover from the disaster.

Brantly Stupey, a 14-year-old accepting the award on behalf of the city of Arlington, said that despite the difficulties, many in the community showed their best sides by pitching in to help.

“The battle for healing is ongoing, but through continued unity, with time, all will heal,” said Brantly, who, with his schoolmates, helped distribute food and water after the disaster.

Quinn Nations, a logger who was one of the first ones to help after the disaster, accepted the award on behalf of the town of Darrington.

“I hope you have about 2,000 more of them, because there are a lot of people here who deserve one of them,” Nations said.

Willy Harper, Oso Fire Chief, said that there is still a long road ahead for the community of Oso, but the community was grateful for the outpouring of support.

“That day our community grew, it grew beyond Arlington, they grew beyond Darrington, beyond Sauk-Suiattle,” Harper said.

Kevin Lenon, vice chairman of the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, paid tribute to those who died.

“We can most respectfully honor the memories of the precious lost ones by working together to build a strong and inviting community for the world to come and see and share and forever implant the importance of the names and lives of those who have moved on to another world,” Lenon said.

Two others were issued the state’s Medal of Merit, which recognizes a lifetime of service in Washington. Gretchen Schodde is the founder of the Harmony Hill Retreat Center which helps individuals and families affected by cancer. The late Billy Frank, Jr., who died last year, was a Native American rights activist who participated in the Fish Wars and was the head of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. His sons, Willie and Tobin Frank, accepted the award on their father’s behalf.

TVW app on Google Pixel 5
TVW logo

Take us with you on the go

Your source for in-depth, around the clock, non-partisan Washington state news coverage.

TVW app on Apple iPhone