WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Port City Heroes presented their second annual law enforcement appreciation event last night.
“It’s always an honor to be around heroes, law enforcement LEOs, and to be a guest of honor for them, it’s humbling. I don’t feel like I deserve it, so if I can have anything to say, it’s thank you to them, thank you for them to continue their service” Benghazi hero Kris “Tanto” Paronto said.
Paronto, a man credited with saving more than 20 lives in the 2012 Benghazi attack, has seen what life is like without order.
His leadership is why the Port City Heroes asked him to be the keynote speaker at their 2nd annual law enforcement appreciation event.
“I’ve been to countries where there is no law enforcement, Benghazi was one of them, and terrorism ran rapid killings, assassination. We have no idea and people have no idea that never worked in those environments and immersed in those environments, how lucky we are,” Paronto said.
Paronto said it is important to honor and respect the men and woman who keep the streets and the community safe.
It’s why Timothy Hutto created Port City Heroes.
“If we don’t back our law enforcement you hear one of the old cliches, we never thought it would happen, when we see the chaos and the war on cops and war on law enforcement throughout our nation it’s just a stone throw away from Wilmington,” Hutto said.
Paronto spoke about the 13 hours of attacks in Benghazi he endured as an example why local law enforcement should never give up when faced with challenge.
“They have to be admired. I’ve been in countries where there aren’t any, there aren’t police force or the police force is very crooked and in cahoots with the terrorist organizations. Benghazi was one of them and what that does is it breeds death and destruction,” Paronto said.
Six officers from six agencies were honored at the event, including the Leland officer shot multiple times during a traffic stop last December.
Port City Heroes description of the Officers of the Year:
Officer Kevin Robertson: Burgaw Police Department.
Officer Kevin Robertson served as a United State Marine and entered the police force with Burgaw Police Department in July 2015. His peers often describe him as a role model, team player and is someone who is respectful to everyone. He is a devoted father of four and the happiest moment of his life happened on July 20,2009 – when he married his wife. He describes himself as dedicated, hardworking & fun while describing his role in the community as the “enforcer”. You can find him fishing in his down time, eating a good steak and snacking on jerky. He is also a great hunter and would love to vacation in Egypt.
Officer Derrick McNeil: Carolina Beach Police Department
Officer Derrick McNeil of the Carolina Beach Police Department has devoted his entire life to serving his fellow man. He has served several tours in the Middle East as a Marine and continues his hard work serving his community by going above and beyond. His best friend is his lovely wife and his daughter makes him laugh the most! He uses the words hardworking, honor and dedication to describe himself and can be found enjoying chicken and cashews – two of his favorite foods! He attributes his parents to being his heroes and relaxes by going to the gym. His dream vacation would be anywhere with his family.
Officer Gregory Brown: Kure Beach Police Department
Officer Gregory Brown is a dependable and loyal officer of the Kure Beach Police Department as he continuously holds himself to high moral and ethical standards as he conducts himself with the utmost integrity. He is a model officer who performs his duties fairly and with sound judgement and decisiveness. He considers himself goofy, caring and laid-back and the happiest moment of his life is when he married his best friend & wife, Blaine. He is well versed in making awkward situations more awkward and enjoys a burger at PT’s Grille or Two Guys Grill followed by his favorite snack, vanilla sugar wafers. He considers his role in the community to be a servant and would love to vacation somewhere private and tropical.
Officer Jacob Schwenk: Leland Police Department
Officer Jacob Schwenk has been with the Leland Police Department since April of 2016. The following December he was shot numerous times conducting a vehicle stop and was able to return fire eliminating the assailant. Although his injuries were life threatening, his EMS training and experience helped him to remain calm and he was able to instruct a rookie officer on how to administer first aid and apply a tourniquet. He has gone through multiple surgeries and hours of rehabilitation therapy and remains on leave. Throughout this he has had the support of his best friend – his wife, Pamela. He describes his role in the community as one who is to protect and describes himself as loyal, hard-headed and brave. He is a master at making mashed potatoes and his favorite snack is Buffalo Chicken Dip & Chips. He would love a vacation in Hawaii and loves to eat friend chicken.
Officer Erin Bray: UNCW Police Department
Officer Erin Bray of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington has only been with the department shortly, but has already made an impact through her ability to connect with a variety of audiences and with her personal approach and message that aligns with the department’s philosophy. She also the UNCW PD NC Torch Run coordinator and works with Special Olympics. She describes herself as motivated, persistent and blessed. She loves country music and shrimp tacos with her favorite snack being Halo Top ice cream. She describes her role in the community as a peacekeeper and attributes God and her parents as her heroes because of their examples of unconditional love and grace. Her co-workers and silly memes make her laugh and the happiest moments of her life were during the births of her daughters. She enjoys relaxing at the beach or participating in outdoor activities.
Officer Seth Porter: Wilmington International Airport Public Safety
Officer Seth Porter is a full-time Patrolman with the Airport Public Safety Office at the Wilmington International Airport where he is regularly the officer with the most training accomplished each year. He has great personal motivation, excellent teamwork skills and exudes professionalism year after year. His best friend is his wife of 16 years and the happiest moment in his life was the birth of his daughter. He once climbed Mt. Vesuvius and enjoys watching sports – while watching sports, you can catch him eating his favorite, lasagna followed by a delicious fudge brownie! He describes himself as professional, honest and loyal and considers himself a good role model to both his stepdaughter and daughter.