The City of Dana Point and the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9934 celebrated the town’s first responders late last month when councilmembers and veteran service members recognized the recipients of the 2022 Firefighter, Police Officer and Emergency Medical Technician of the Year.
During the council’s April 18 meeting, Mayor Mike Frost and the VFW presented awards to Fire Capt. Corey Gallup as Firefighter of the Year; Deputy Sheriff Blake Blaney as Police Officer of the Year; and Senior Reserve Officer Jason Smigel as EMT of the Year.
“I can’t tell you how important you guys, as well as the deputies, are to the services we provide here,” said Frost, addressing Gallup. “I can tell you, I’m a father to two little kids who love seeing you guys (firefighters) drive by.”
“It matters a lot, makes people feel comfortable, safe, allows people to want to invest, small businesses, it’s really a critical component of our city,” Frost continued. “So, thank you sir and thank you for your efforts.”
Gallup has had 20 years of service with the Orange County Fire Authority under his belt and works out of Station 29 in Capistrano Beach. Being recognized for “his meritorious services to the citizens of Dana Point and the County of Orange,” Gallup called the ability to work in Dana Point a privilege.
“I consider it a privilege to work here in this beautiful city,” he said. “In my opinion, we have one of the best fire stations that the OCFA has to offer, as well as a shiny, new apparatus, one of the most modern in the fleet.”
“I’m fortunate to have a great crew and great crews at Station 29 that are dedicated to providing the best service to the citizens,” Gallup continued.
Gallup concluded by thanking his family for their sacrifices in supporting his service to the county.
“Thanks for sharing me with the City of Dana Point, and it’s an honor to serve here,” Gallup said.
As Blaney was being awarded the Police Officer of the Year for his 11 years of service with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Frost thanked the city’s emergency services, deputies and the OCFA, stating, “you guys are critical to us.”
“The way you guys handle tough situations, you’ve got to be tough, then you’ve got to be compassionate,” Frost said. “You’ve got to decide in five seconds. It’s a tough job, but we certainly appreciate what you guys do.”
VFW Vice Commander Richard Alonzo presented Blaney with a plaque recognizing his “unyielding adherence to the highest ideals of law enforcement and maintaining, preserving and protecting the lawful rights of all citizens.”
VFW Post Commander Wayne Yost added that Blaney’s selection of Police Officer of the Year was made locally by the 400 veterans in the city’s VFW post and district-wide by roughly 3,500 combat veterans and the 15 VFW posts comprising VFW District 2.
The city and VFW also recognized Senior Reserve Officer Jason Smigel as the EMT of the Year for his work with OCFA for nearly 10 years. Smigel works out of Station 7 in San Juan Capistrano.
“Thank you to the City of Dana Point, thank you, Mayor, councilmembers, VFW, I do appreciate the honor, recognition as well from OCFA,” Smigel said.