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13 Times Mail Carriers Were Everyday Heroes

Their job often puts them in the right place at the right time, but it's their hearts that made these courageous letter carriers save the day.

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Mailman's arm inserting a bundle of mail into a mailbox. Partially obscured suburban home in background. Horizontal orientation.MichaelShivers/Getty Images

Not all heroes wear capes

Due to the public nature of their jobs, letter carriers are often the first people on the scene of an emergency. And because they’re familiar with their neighborhood and the households on their route, they often know just what needs to be done and aren’t afraid to act, according to Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). Dealing with random emergencies is just one part of what it’s really like being a mail carrier.

“We hardly ever learn about the event from the letter carrier who was involved,” Rolando said in a 2019 NALC ceremony honoring these brave men and women. “After taking action to save or help someone, they just continue delivering the mail, and likely check up on the resident, later on, to see how things are going. As letter carriers see it, what they do is more than a job—it’s a career in public service.”

And that’s exactly why we think everyone deserves to know about these humble letter carriers who also happen to be incredible heroes.

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US mailboxes in a row.Balticboy/Getty Images

He rescued a teen from sex trafficking

“Behind this tree, there was this young lady, crying,” remembers Ivan Crisostomo about the event that happened during his shift delivering mail on June 8, 2018. After calming 16-year-old Crystal Allen and calling her mother, he discovered that the teen had been missing for months after being lured by a friend into meeting a sex trafficker. Allen had been drugged, tortured, and abused for three months before she escaped and Crisostomo found her. He stayed with her until police arrived and she was reunited with her family. “He stepped up where a lot of people would have continued driving down the road, and he made a huge, positive impact in this young girl’s life,” Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy David Cuneo told the CBS affiliate.

Crisostomo was just glad that Allen was safe. “The way I see her, she has a wonderful future ahead,” he said. “She’s doing so well. I’m happy. I’m really happy.” He was named one of the National Association of Letter Carriers‘ Heroes of the Year for 2019.

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Mail carts on the sidewalk400tmax/Getty Images

He saved a girl from being murdered

A large “J” is emblazoned on letter carrier Joseph Moskal’s mailbag. But it’s no simple monogram; his coworkers put it on to honor him after he rescued a 13-year-old girl like a real-life superhero. While doing his route in July 2016, Moskal heard screaming and found a teen girl in a lethal chokehold by a 300-pound mentally ill man. By the time he reached her, she was already bleeding and unconscious, so he tackled her attacker and, with the help of a neighbor, held him down until police arrived. Police praised him, calling him a hero who happened to be in the right place at the right time and who saved her life. Here are another 20 real-life heroes who are changing the world.

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USPS vehicle parked on the side of the roadAndrei Stanescu/Getty Images

He saved a baby from choking to death

At first, South Carolina letter carrier Chris Brown didn’t know what to think when he saw a woman running out of her house with a limp baby in her arms. But when Stephanie Cooper told him that her 1-year-old, Eli, was choking and had stopped breathing, Brown sprang into action. Crediting his emergency training given by the post office, the mailman took the baby in his arms and immediately began performing chest compressions with two fingers. The first set did nothing, and the panicked mother pleaded with him to keep trying. The second set dislodged the small piece of plastic that had been stuck in Eli’s windpipe. Eli began crying, and Brown knew he was going to be OK.

Cooper called him a hero, but Brown said that type of praise isn’t necessary. “I really don’t feel that way because to me, I would have done it for anyone, or I hope someone would have done it for my children,” Brown told the local ABC affiliate. Not sure what to do if someone’s choking? These are the key steps you should memorize to save someone’s life.

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Mailbox on white fence.Willvastine/Getty Images

He saved an elderly man from a pit bull attack

Mark Schuh was doing his usual mail route on March 4, 2019, when he heard a commotion and saw a pit bull attacking an elderly man and his small dog. Like all letter carriers, Schuh carries pepper spray dog deterrent in his satchel, and he rushed to help. Not all pit bulls are lethally aggressive, but this one was. Even after Schuh and the pit bull’s owner managed to pull it away several times, it continued to attack both the man and his dog, so Schuh sprayed him. “I sprayed almost a can,” he says. “The pit bull would have killed the dog. He was determined.”

Both the man and his dog needed medical attention for their wounds, and the letter carrier stayed with them until help arrived. His fearlessness and quick thinking earned him the title of 2019 Central Region Hero of the Year from the NALC, an accolade he isn’t sure about. “I’m a quiet person, and I don’t like a lot of attention,” he said. “If I was in trouble, I’d hope someone would help me.”

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white metal mail box in front of a house.Imagedepotpro/Getty Images

She saved a boy from bleeding out

These men and women are equally heroic when they’re not on the clock. Mail carrier Theresa Jo Belkota was at home on the evening of June 1, 2018, when she heard horrific screams coming from next door. She ran out to find 10-year-old Gavin bleeding heavily from his leg after being accidentally run over by a riding lawnmower. After telling Gavin’s mom to call 911, Belkota sprang into action using her first aid training, applying pressure to the boy’s femoral artery to stanch the bleeding, telling the father to find the rest of the boy’s foot, and asking siblings to bring blankets to prevent shock. She kept him calm and stable until paramedics arrived. They credit her with saving his leg and possibly his life.

She was named the 2019 Eastern Region Hero of the Year by the NALC and Gavin’s family gave her a shirt that reads, “Superhero neighbor,” but the carrier said it’s strange to be called a hero. The 25-year postal veteran said she attributes “all of this to divine intervention and divine providence. I’m just a mailman.” By the way, this is what you’re legally allowed to gift your mail carrier.

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Cardboard package delivery at front doorJorge Villalba/Getty Images

He jumped in when a man had a heart attack

While delivering packages on his mail route, Robert Korba noticed a man collapse in a nearby driveway. The letter carrier rushed to his side, found Richard Pines without a pulse, and recognized the signs of a heart attack. Korba began CPR and kept going until paramedics arrived. Pines was rushed to the hospital but sadly died three days later. However, his wife, Gillian, was still very grateful for Korba’s help, calling him a hero for jumping into the emergency situation without thinking twice and saying his actions gave the family precious time to say good-bye before Pines died. He was given the Postmaster General Award from the U.S. Postal Service, as well as the Hero Award from the NALC.

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Snow Covered postal truck on a residential street in philadelphiaBastiaan Slabbers/Getty Images

He caught a child jumping from a burning building

When mail carrier and Army veteran Chris Turner spotted smoke and flames pouring out of an apartment building in March 2018, he leapt from his mail truck and raced toward it. He could see a man and his daughter trapped on the second story and called for the young girl to jump. She did, and he caught her in his arms, tumbling backward into a snowbank. Thankfully neither were hurt, and firefighters quickly arrived to rescue the girl’s father and several others still trapped in the building. When asked why he tried such a risky move, he replied, “They’re safe and that’s all that matters.” The girl and her dad praised him as a hero in a news report. Speaking of another set of heroes, here are 19 things firefighters wish you knew.

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mail sticking out of a letterboxSergio Delle Vedove/Getty Images

He started a foundation to help sick children

Sometimes it isn’t a single act that makes a letter carrier a hero; it’s years of helping others that makes them beloved by their community. Such is the case for Mitchell Rivas, a mailman who started Maryssa’s Mission Foundation to provide cheer, love, and toys to hundreds of hospitalized children in Ohio. He started the charity in 2015 as a way to deal with the death of his toddler daughter, Maryssa, from congenital heart failure.

Maryssa had spent half her short life in the hospital, so Rivas understood exactly what other parents of medically fragile children were going through and what those families truly needed. Since then, he’s helped more than 2,000 families in need. “His life is one of service, whether it’s delivering mail to people or allowing parents to spend the time concentrating on their kids while he takes care of some of their day-to-day needs,” said Berea Police Chief Joe Grecol. Rivas was named the 2019 Humanitarian of the Year by the NALC. Next, check out more of the most heartwarming acts of kindness.

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Old retro vintage door mail box, mailbox attached to house home wall exterior painted in yellow colorAblokhin/Getty Images

He saved a woman from a burning house

Austin Rentz was doing his usual mail route on March 13, 2018, when he heard a strange noise, like an alarm going off, coming from a customer’s home. At first, he brushed it off, but when he passed the house again on his return, the noise was louder and he realized it was a smoke alarm. He ran up and opened the front door, only to be greeted by clouds of black smoke. He rushed into the house and helped the elderly woman escape a fire that had started when she forgot food cooking on the stove. After getting the woman to safety, he went back in to open windows and vent the house until firefighters arrived. He was named 2019 National Hero of the Year by the NALC. They noted that the letter carrier “placed himself in very grave danger to save a life and protect property,” but Rentz simply says, “I just feel it’s something anyone would do.”

Making sure that your fire alarm is working could save your life, so make sure to replace the batteries regularly. That low-battery beeping is one of the hidden dangers in your home you should never ignore.

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two usps trucks parked on the streetCribbVisuals/Getty Images

He pushed his coworkers out of the way of a speeding car

On Valentine’s Day in 2018, Michael Musick was sitting on a curb near his mail truck, eating lunch with his coworkers Areli Ramirez and Noemy Martinez, when he noticed an out-of-control car speeding toward them. Instead of simply yelling or getting out of the way, Musick dove for his friends, pushing them out of the way just as the car hit them. Musick was scraped, Ramirez suffered a broken ankle, and Martinez had her leg crushed (and later amputated), but those injuries were nothing compared to what would have happened if Musick hadn’t acted so quickly. Even though his coworkers see him as a hero, he says, “I was just looking out for my friends.” He was named one of 2019’s Letter Carrier Heroes by the NALC.

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Letter boxes at the entrance of a building with apartments.Brytta/Getty Images

He rescued a nun

In April 2019, Sister Mary Peter Kaminski was leaving to run an errand when she realized she forgot her purse and ran back into her apartment to get it. In her rush, she tripped and fell, badly breaking her arm. She called out for help, and fortunately letter carrier Jabari Hariman was walking by as part of his scheduled route. He heard her cries and ran to her, propping her up with pillows until paramedics arrived. For his kind act, he was given the Postmaster General Hero Award. “He is my personal hero,” Sister Kaminski told her local ABC affiliate. “Now everybody knows he’s a hero.” Do you know these 23 things your mail carrier won’t tell you?

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Three colorful mailboxes rural mailboxes.JannHuizenga/Getty Images

She donated her kidney to a stranger

After reading a post on Facebook about a local father in desperate need of a lifesaving kidney transplant, letter carrier Martha Olsen felt compelled to help. She reached out to the family and volunteered to be tested. While she wasn’t a match for the man, she decided to proceed anyway through a kidney paired donation program. Her kidney ended up going to a stranger, while the local father received a matching kidney from a different donor through the program. After the surgery, she quietly returned to her work for the USPS, but her coworkers wanted to make sure her heroic act was recognized. They nominated her for the Postmaster General Hero Award, which she received in August 2019.

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apartment building mailboxesBinkybink1/Getty Images

He cleared a building that was on fire

Upon encountering flames inside a building, most people would immediately run out. Yet when mail carrier Dayton Ngo discovered an apartment building on his route was on fire, his first instinct was to run into the burning building. He pounded on doors, yelling to residents to get out and helping people from one apartment make it out to safety. Fortunately, firefighters soon arrived and were able to contain the fire. Thanks to them and to Ngo’s quick thinking, no one was injured. For his courage and bravery, he was awarded the Postmaster General Hero Award in July 2019. If you loved these stories, these 12 heartwarming true stories will restore your faith in humanity.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.