Titusville firefighters earning Medal of Honor for saving families from Hurricane Ian floods while off duty

Two Titusville firefighters are being honored with a rare award for outstanding bravery during Hurricane Ian.

Lt. David Neeld and Driver Operator Billy Wiegert were not on duty, but when families were stuck in a flooded neighborhood they didn’t think twice about rushing to the rescue. They were safe at home in Brevard County, but when they heard people were in trouble, they raced to Volusia County. They thought the storm had passed but were shocked at what they saw in New Smyrna Beach.

"It was like the ocean. You couldn’t see west at all. It was completely underwater," Neeld said.

On the drive over, they realized the decision could be dangerous, but they kept marching ahead.

"We were watching big oak trees slam on I-95 behind us," Neeld added. "We realized it was going to be a lot more intense than we initially had thought about it."

They had a small boat, each other, and a determination to save people who couldn’t escape on their own. Trip after trip, hour after hour, more families kept calling out for help. All in all, they rescued five people and their pets.

"You do what you can to help out because you hope someone would do the same for you," Wiegert said.

Their rescue efforts are being recognized in a big way as the department’s newest Medal of Honor recipients. The pair never thought twice about risking their lives to help others.

"When people are in trouble, you go to help them," Neeld said. "At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about."

Seeing everyone out of the flood zone made the dangerous mission even more fulfilling for these first responders.

"That was the prize at the end of the day," Wiegert concluded.

These two firefighters will be given their medal of honors at a special ceremony on Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m. at Titusville City Hall Council Chambers, 550 South Washington Ave. They’re joining a very select group of people because this award has not been given out in nearly 40 years.