Horage Eugene Hilliard, a grounds maintenance supervisor with the Los Angeles County Parks Department, was making the rounds at Will Rogers Park in Watts last October when he saw two former employees--one armed with a knife--beating up one of his co-workers.
Hilliard jumped into the fight, disarmed the man with the knife and forced both assailants to take off running.
"Certainly, when you're looking at any situation where there's a possibility of getting hurt, there can be some fear," Hilliard, 42, said Thursday. "But you still have to do what you have to do."
Hilliard, along with seven other county employees, was honored for his heroism Thursday by the Board of Supervisors at the county's annual Valor Awards ceremony. The eight recipients were selected by Service Employees International Union Local 660, which represents 40,000 county workers.
"All I could think about was trying to help the guy who was being attacked," Hilliard said, recalling the incident. "It looked like they were trying to kill him. They had the knife out, and the first thing I could think about was getting that knife.
"They had some size to them," the 5-foot-7, 170-pound Hilliard added. "But I had to stop the fighting and try to prevent the employee from being killed or severely injured."
Neither of the attackers was caught.
The others receiving Valor Awards were sheriff's deputies John J. Mayer, Eric Bodnar and Thomas A. Gibson; paramedic Gary Davis; Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center security officers Andrew Mack and Rosemary Monroe, and county Marshal Timothy Smith.
Aided Wounded Deputy
Mayer was honored for dragging a wounded deputy, Barry Burtt, out of a Lennox area bar last October during a gunfight.
"The only thing I was thinking about was just getting him out of the bar and keeping him alive," Mayer said of Burtt, who had been shot in the stomach. "I had been shooting back at them earlier, but I had to stop shooting and use both of my hands to drag Barry out."
After pulling Burtt out of the bar, Mayer was able to stop the bleeding and treat him for shock until paramedics arrived. Burtt, after a 10-month recovery period, is now back on duty.
Bodnar and Gibson received awards for their work during a fire at a Van Nuys retirement home last July. They climbed 12 stories, through smoke and heat, to rescue about 40 elderly residents.