Correctional officer Nathan Box is congratulated by Gov. Jay Nixon.

A corrections officer at the South Central Correctional Center received the state’s highest public safety award for his actions in a 2014 inmate attack.

Nathan F. Box was one of nine officers from across the state who received the Missouri Medal of Valor honor from Gov. Jay Nixon during a ceremony last Wednesday in Jefferson City. Officers who responded to deadly threats in 2014 represented Missouri police and EMS and fire departments, as well as the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 

Box sprung into action on May 30, 2014, when a prisoner attacked a corrections officer with an 8-inch-long steel improvised weapon. The offender had stabbed the officer multiple times, including in the jaw, back of the head and left torso when Box came to the officer’s aid. He first deployed pepper spray at the attacker, but it had no effect.

Because corrections officers do not carry guns, Tasers or other weapons, Box physically engaged the attacker, attempting to pull him away from the injured officer. The attacker remained violent and began attacking Box. In subduing the attacker to protect his wounded colleague, Box suffered a stab wound and a fractured jaw. Despite his injuries, Box was able to subdue the attacker and recover the improvised weapon.

The wounded officer who was originally attacked was treated at a hospital and released. Box was also treated, including requiring surgery on his jaw.

“These nine courageous individuals exemplify the bravery and commitment of Missouri’s public safety officers to serving and protecting the public,” Nixon said. “Each story is unique –– from subduing an armed attacker to giving medical care while under gunfire to braving flood waters and entering a burning building to pull trapped victims to safety –– but the character of the individuals involved, their decisiveness of action and selfless commitment to protecting the public is the same.”

The Medal of Valor was first awarded in 2008 and is bestowed annually based on recommendations submitted by the Medal of Valor Review Board. Recipients must serve a public agency, with or without compensation, as a firefighter, law enforcement officer or emergency personnel. The nominating form states the Medal of Valor is awarded “to a public safety officer who has exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her own personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.”

“There is no nobler calling than providing for the safety and well-being of one’s neighbors,” Nixon said. “These officers embody commitment to duty, decisive action, and selfless courage. It is a privilege to bestow upon them the state’s highest honor for a public safety officer on behalf of the people of Missouri.”

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