Saving two cats, a dog, and serving overseas earns Moline police officer heroism award

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MOLINE, Illinois - A Moline Police Officer was honored for his heroic services by his coworkers, family and close friends.

Tyler Hoogerwerf enlisted in the Army before he graduated from Geneseo High School in 2006 and served in Afghanistan.

He was a member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Italy, and had only been in Afghanistan for two weeks before his Humvee was hit by enemy fire. Tyler was injured in that ambush and returned home in June 2007.

In 2011, Tyler was out walking his dog in Geneseo when he saw smoke coming out of the Henry County Humane Society. He called 911, ran in, and saved two cats from the fire.

After that, Tyler was accepted into the Moline Police Department. Earlier this month, he was once again hailed a hero after saving a dog's life. Tyler found the dog lying in the middle of the road, took it to the emergency vet and donated $300 to help pay for its surgery.

On Monday, March 28, 2016 Tyler was honored for his services from a longtime friend and the Moline Police Department.

Barbara Ritter, whose son was close friends with Tyler - and joined the Army at the same time as Tyler in 2006 - nominated Tyler for an award from the organization, Operation Once in a Lifetime. Operation Once in a Lifetime supports and honors veterans for their service by providing free, financial and morale support.

Ritter nominated Tyler for Operation Once in a Lifetime's award called "Not Your Average Veteran," for continuing to serve his community after serving his country.

"After he left the military, and going through what he went through in the military, he chose to continue to be a productive member of society and help people and just give back to others all the time," Ritter said.

"If it were my son, I would want someone to recognize what he's gone through and that he's continued to thrive as a member of society," said Ritter, through her own tears. "I'm just very proud of him and proud to know him."

Ritter presented Tyler with a plaque and a $500 check at an award ceremony in the Moline Police Department, recognizing him for his heroic actions and service.


Editor's note:  The original version of this story mistakenly identified Barbara Ritter as Brenda Ritter.  We apologize for the error. 

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