Soldier posthumously honored for heroism in fatal fire

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Pfc. Emmanuel Mensah was a son, a brother, a warrior. He was a hero who made the ultimate sacrifice.

In a ceremony at Fordham University in the Bronx Friday, the Army National Guard honored Mensah for being a true soldier, even outside of combat.

In December, he died while saving others when a massive fire ripped through an apartment building in the Belmont section of the borough. He fearlessly ran into the building and saved several residents.

"When they tried to convince Emmanuel not to go back inside the building, he's reported to have said 'I understand the danger, but I'm going to keep going back until I know there's nobody left,'" Lt. General Timothy Kadavy of the Army National Guard said.

Mensah's family proudly and tearfully accepted two special medals on his behalf. The Soldier's Medal is the Army's top award for valor outside of combat. The New York Medal for Valor is the state's highest military award.

The hero's father said that as a little boy in Ghana, his son always wanted to move to the U.S. and serve in the military.

"He fulfilled his dream, what he wanted to do," Kwabena Mensah said. "He was proud of being the American military. He was so proud of that."

"It's given we, the family members, some peace and some joy and hope that even though we have lost him physically, his memory still lives on," Gloria Addo Nuamah, his sister, said. "People will remember him for this bravery and that's what this ceremony stands for me."

The mass and burial for Mensah will be held Saturday in the Bronx. His father said Mensah will be buried with his medals and will be remembered always as a hero.