2021 Citizen Honors Awards

Washington, D.C., March 25, 2021 – On National Medal of Honor Day, The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is pleased to announce their 2021 Citizen Honors Award Honorees – outstanding Americans who have gone above and beyond to perform extraordinary acts of courage or service. 

The Citizen Honors Awardees will receive this award from a group of Americans whose actions have defined the words courage and selfless service – Medal of Honor Recipients. 

Each year, the Society conducts a nationwide search to select individuals in four categories and one organization to receive their Citizen Honors Awards. These five individuals and one organization exemplify the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship, and patriotism. 

The 2021 Congressional Medal of Honor Society’s Citizen Honors Awardees are: 

Single Act of Heroism Award (two honorees):

RAINA NEELAND (Posthumous) of Bagley, MN, was selected for her courageous act when she rescued three young cousins after they were swept over the Clearwater Dam at Clearwater Lake.  She succumbed to the currents. 

DAVID DORN (Posthumous) of St. Louis, MO, was selected for his courage when he was mortally wounded while saving his friend’s business from looters. 

Young Hero Award:

CHRIS STONE (Posthumous) of Santa Fe, TX, was selected for his extreme valor when he used his body as a human barricade on May 18, 2018 to keep a school shooter from entering a classroom, saving the lives of many students while losing his own. 

Service Act:

AIDAN REILLY & JAMES KANOFF from Pacific Palisades, CA, were chosen for their selfless service as they responded to a nationwide crisis during (and because of) a global pandemic to create a grassroots initiative -- FarmLink Project – connecting farmers with surplus product to communities in need. 

 Youth Service Award:

CHARLES (Charlie) AUSTIN, from Brunswick, ME, was chosen for his selfless service for donating time and money to help fund and develop The Warrior Program, a virtual training program for Special Olympics Maine (SOME).  As Charlie grappled with living with cardiac limitations, he was determined to stay in the world of sports and immersed himself in helping athletes of Special Olympics Maine (SOME). 

Community Service Hero Award:

THE GARY SINISE FOUNDATION (GSF) was selected for their outstanding service to our military, their families and first responders.  Now in its 10th year of operation, GSF honors our defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need through creation and support of unique programs designed to entertain, educate, inspire, strengthen, and build communities. 

In addition to the announcement of the Citizen Honors Honorees, Medal of Honor Recipients will commemorate National Medal of Honor Day with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery at 12:30 pm. Congress passed a resolution in 1990 establishing National Medal of Honor Day as March 25th as the first Medals of Honor were awarded that day in 1863. 

On this National Medal of Honor Day, we recognize the selfless actions of these individuals and look forward to honoring them soon.   The 2021 Citizen Honors Service Awardees (Service Act, Youth Service and Community Service) will be celebrated on July 14, 2021 in Charleston, SC at a dinner being held at The Belmond Charleston Place Hotel.  The 2021 Citizen Honors Valor Awardees (Single Act of Heroism and Young Hero) will be honored in Boston, MA on September 10, 2021 at a dinner at the Seaport Hotel. 

The Congressional Medal of Honor Society was chartered by Congress in 1958 to create a brotherhood among the living Medal of Honor recipients; to protect and uphold the dignity and honor of the Medal; to promote patriotism and love of country; and to inspire our youth to become worthy and dedicated citizens of our nation. Its membership consists exclusively of those individuals who have received the Medal of Honor. Today, there are 69 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. The Society is unique in that its membership hopes that there will be no need to welcome new inductees.

More information on the Honorees and the Citizen Honors awards are available by contacting Kristi Hellmuth at Kristi.hellmuth@datocwitten.com or by visiting Medal of Honor Citizen Honors Overview | CMOHS

 2020 Citizen Awardees who will also be honored in Boston September 10 are:

Single Act of Heroism Award (two honorees):

Riley Howell of Waynesville, NC, selected for his courageous act when he shielded students from a gunman during an incident at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte. Riley Howell did not survive the attack, but he is attributed with saving the lives of many students. 

Keanon Lowe of Portland, OR, selected for his courageous act when he disarmed a student with a loaded shotgun during an incident at Parkrose High school in Portland Oregon. Mr. Lowe is attributed with saving the lives of the students and faculty of Parkrose High school.

 Young Hero Award (two honorees):

Christian Garcia of Santa Fe, TX, selected for his courageous act when he sprang into action when a gunman opened fire on first period art classes at Santa Fe High School. Christian did not survive the attack but is hailed a hero for his actions. 

Cody Runyon of Rochester, MN pulled an eleven-year-old fellow swimmer from the bottom of a pool after the younger boy had sunk and become unresponsive. Cody noticed the danger and reacted quickly, preventing further tragedy. The victim credits Cody and the adult for saving his life.