Private Emmanuel Mensah


Private Emmanuel Mensah was posthumously awarded The Soldier’s Medal by the U.S. Army and the New York State Medal for Valor for sacrificing his life to rescue four neighbors from a Bronx fire on December 28, 2017.

New York National Guard.

As a teenager in Ghana, Emmanuel Mensah dreamed of one day joining his father in New York and becoming an American soldier. Mensah, who achieved his goal by enlisting in the New York National Guard, died late last year rescuing four neighbors in a massive Bronx fire.

Born in Accra, Ghana, Mensah showed an early talent working with computers and engineering. His father, who had emigrated to New York, sent home his earnings as a cab driver to pay Mensah’s school fees at a top high school in Accra, and, later, at an engineering college.

As he excelled academically, Mensah’s dream to become an American soldier only grew. In 2012, Mensah, 21, immigrated to the United States. To get into military shape, Mensah rose early to run before reporting to work at LaGuardia Airport.

“His courageous and selfless act in the face of unimaginable conditions are consistent with the highest traditions of uniformed service and deserving of the highest possible recognition.”
- The New York State Medal for Valor citation for Private Emmanuel Mensah.

In 2016, he fulfilled his dream by enlisting in the New York Army National Guard. In June, 2017, Mensah was promoted to Private First Class, and three months later, Private Mensah became a naturalized United States citizen.

After completing training in Georgia to serve as a wheeled vehicle mechanic, Mensah returned to the Bronx for the holidays. In January, he was to have begun drilling with the 107th Military Police Company in Brooklyn.

Instead, on Dec. 28, 2017, when a deadly fire started in his apartment building, Mensah ran in and out of the building three times to bring his neighbor’s wife and young children to safety. Running back in a fourth time, Mensah was killed by the smoke and flames consuming the building, fire officials said.

On Jan. 2, Governor Andrew M Cuomo awarded Private Mensah posthumously with the New York State Medal for Valor—the state’s highest military award, which is presented for acts of heroism on and off the battlefield.

Top: Emmanuel Mensah with family members in Ghana.

Bottom: Emmanuel Mensah, right, in Ghana with his best friend, Michael Bismarck. Mensah lived with Bismarck’s family after the death of his mother.

The Mensah Family

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