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AG Reyes Honors 75th Anniversary of Private First Class Jose F. Valdez’s Bravery

February 20, 2020

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined with Senator Dan Hemmert, Congressman John Curtis and Veterans of Foreign Affairs to honor Jose F. Valdez and the 75th anniversary of his brave actions that saved the life of his comrades.

Private First Class in the U.S. Army during World War II, Valdez was the first Hispanic in Utah to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor after he valiantly put his life on the line to save the life of his comrades in Rosenkrantz, France in 1945.

Read his story below:

He was on outpost duty with 5 others when the enemy counterattacked with overwhelming strength. From his position near some woods 500 yards beyond the American lines he observed a hostile tank about 75 yards away, and raked it with automatic rifle fire until it withdrew. Soon afterward he saw 3 Germans stealthily approaching through the woods. Scorning cover as the enemy soldiers opened up with heavy automatic weapons fire from a range of 30 yards, he engaged in a fire fight with the attackers until he had killed all 3. The enemy quickly launched an attack with 2 full companies of infantrymen, blasting the patrol with murderous concentrations of automatic and rifle fire and beginning an encircling movement which forced the patrol leader to order a withdrawal. Despite the terrible odds, Pfc. Valdez immediately volunteered to cover the maneuver, and as the patrol 1 by 1 plunged through a hail of bullets toward the American lines, he fired burst after burst into the swarming enemy. Three of his companions were wounded in their dash for safety and he was struck by a bullet that entered his stomach and, passing through his body, emerged from his back. Overcoming agonizing pain, he regained control of himself and resumed his firing position, delivering a protective screen of bullets until all others of the patrol were safe. By field telephone he called for artillery and mortar fire on the Germans and corrected the range until he had shells falling within 50 yards of his position. For 15 minutes he refused to be dislodged by more than 200 of the enemy; then, seeing that the barrage had broken the counter attack, he dragged himself back to his own lines. He died later as a result of his wounds. Through his valiant, intrepid stand and at the cost of his own life, Pfc. Valdez made it possible for his comrades to escape, and was directly responsible for repulsing an attack by vastly superior enemy forces.

Portraits of Jose F. Valdez were presented to schools around Utah during the ceremony.

A Look into SafeUTNG

December 16, 2019

Since 2015, the SafeUT app has provided professional mental health support for youth in crisis. Lives have been saved amid tens of thousands of chats and tips generated on the app. Now, there is a similar resource for members of Utah’s Army and Air National Guard: SafeUTNG.

SafeUTNG is a new suicide prevention, crisis text and tipline, available to Utah military service members and their families. Like the SafeUT app, SafeUTNG provides a safe, confidential platform to communicate with a crisis counselor 24/7.

In 2018, 541 service members died by suicide. According to a report by the Department of Defense in September 2019, the suicide rate in the National Guard was significantly higher than the active duty and Reserve’s. The most recent figure is 30.6 deaths per 100,000 service members. Additionally, the majority of service members who die by suicide were not diagnosed with mental illness. SafeUTNG hopes this new, multi-faceted platform will make a difference and save lives, similarly to the success of the SafeUT app.

The SafeUTNG app is an extension of SafeUT, which provides real-time crisis intervention to Utah’s students, parents, and educators, and works similarly. Crisis help is available through texting and calling. Additionally, the app allows service members to submit tips anonymously. The app is managed by the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) in partnership with the Utah National Guard.

“Speaking up when in crisis, whether it’s in person or over the phone, can be uncomfortable for many,” said Robert Spencer, Suicide Prevention Program Manager of the Utah Army National Guard in a release regarding the SafeUTNG app. “Communicating via apps or text has been the main way in which Soldiers and Airmen prefer to correspond.” 

The app emphasizes that it should not be used in an emergency. Instead, users are encouraged to dial 911.

CrisisLine Counselors can assist with a wide variety of problems including:

  • Emotional crisis
  • Grief and loss
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Mental health issues
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide prevention

SafeUTNG is free and available for download from the Google Play Store and the App Store.

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