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Rusk County deputy earns hero award

State honor follows efforts in saving Vietnam vet found in the cold  

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A Rusk County sheriff’s deputy will receive recognition from state lawmakers for his actions last winter that law enforcement officers credit with saving a Vietnam War veteran’s life. 

Matthew Wojcik of Bruce will be honored Tuesday by the state Assembly, which will bestow Wojcik with a Hometown Hero award. He will be accompanied by his family and Rusk County Sheriff Jeff Wallace. 

During an early morning patrol on Feb. 25, Wojcik noticed footprints in the snow that led toward a swampy area near the village of Bruce. Wojcik figured something might be amiss and decided to search the area. 

That search turned up a 71-year-old man in desperate need of medical assistance. Wojcik ensured that the man, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and a Purple Heart recipient, received medical treatment for frostbite, hypothermia and mental health issues he was experiencing.  

Wojcik was not available for comment Tuesday. Wallace praised the actions of his deputy, saying his willingness to search an area many may have overlooked saved a man’s life. 

“It would have been easy for him to see those tracks and just drive on by,” Wallace said of Wojcik. “We see tracks in the snow all the time, and it usually doesn’t mean anything. But he decided to go check it out. It turns out it’s a good thing he did.”

A Rusk County veterans services officer learned of Wojcik’s actions and met with Wallace. 

“He thought this was something worth making a big deal of,” Wallace said of the veterans services officer. “And he was right.”

State Rep. James Edming, R-Glen Flora, was notified of Wojcik’s actions to save the veteran’s life, and he decided to seek the Hometown Hero designation for Wojcik. 

Recognition for Wojcik’s actions speaks highly not only of Wojcik but of the commitment of Rusk County sheriff’s office employees, Wallace said.

“It’s pretty awesome to know that the guys working for me would go to that extent and wind up saving someone’s life,” Wallace said. 

Contact: 715-830-5911,julian.emerson@ecpc.com 


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