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‘They call me Hero’

Reader recalls fire rescue burned into memory

Greenwich, CT, Letter Carrier Jermaine Shirley

When the 20th anniversary of the Postmaster General Heroes’ Program got underway this summer, Link readers were invited to share memories of unforgettable PMG heroes over the years.

Yvonne Yoerger, employee communications and content management director at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC, didn’t hesitate to mention Jermaine Shirley, now a letter carrier in Greenwich, CT.

Nearly a decade ago, Shirley, then a city carrier assistant, had just left his Bronx, NY, apartment to commute to Greenwich when he smelled smoke. After he rushed back to the building and rescued his wife and 2-year-old daughter, he heard neighbor Everdean Codner shouting for help from an upper-floor window.

Codner was desperate to get his 11-month-old twin sons to safety, so he dropped them one by one to Shirley, who caught them and ensured they were out of harm’s way.

“I thank Jermaine for saving my babies,” Codner told the New York Post. “Now I have a second chance to be a father to my sons.”

“Jermaine’s story really stayed with me because of the emotional impact,” Yoerger said recently. “The courage and trust it took for the father to drop the twins from the building, and likewise for Jermaine to stay steady and catch them safely — what a connection! I also thought when I saw the story, ‘This would make a great movie!’”

While “PMG Heroes: The Movie” has yet to come to pass, Shirley’s tale is one of many that have resonated far beyond “Heroes’ Corner.”

Extensive media coverage culminated in his recognition by the National Association of Letter Carriers as its 2014 National Hero of the Year.

During a recent interview with Link, Shirley said the publicity brought some comfort amid the difficulty of being displaced from the heavily damaged building: “I felt good about it. I appreciated the attention.”

To this day, he hears the same greeting when he arrives at the Greenwich Post Office: “Hero is here.”

“They call me Hero,” Shirley said. “I like it.”

He remains friends with Codner and regularly participates in social gatherings with the twins, now going on 11, in attendance.

“They’re always running around,” said Shirley, “but at some point, someone will always tell them what happened. They want them to learn. They know who I am.”

“I’m extremely proud that my team has kept the PMG Heroes’ Program going to reach this milestone anniversary,” Yoerger said. “When I first started at the Postal Service — before I had any connection to the program — it became a daily routine that I read the PMG hero from that day to my carpool on the way home. It was a feel-good moment that illustrates the value of the program: pride in the Postal Service for serving the nation in so many ways above and beyond delivering mail and packages.”

What’s your favorite “Heroes’ Corner” story from the past two decades? Peruse the archives and tell us at what made the hero so unforgettable to you. To nominate a heroic postal employee, please submit a nomination form, available via