A longtime Quad/Graphics employee was honored as a hero Friday for saving the lives of four Navy men last month when he woke them up during a fire at their rental home in Milton.
Pat Rogers, 51, of Broadalbin, was driving his pickup truck on Route 29 on his way home from work at the printing plant in Saratoga Springs on April 30 when he saw an orange glow through the trees.
Capt. Brian Fort, commanding officer of the Navy’s nuclear power training facility in West Milton, said, “Slowing down for a better look, he noticed flames coming from the porch of a residence with four vehicles parked outside, their drivers nowhere in sight.”
Fort, more than 100 Quad/Graphics employees and family and friends honored Rogers Friday afternoon in the cafeteria of the large printing plant. Three of the four Navy men Rogers saved were also there to thank him. The fourth sailor was unable to attend.
The sailors were all sleeping on the afternoon of April 30 at the small house at 537 Route 29 in Milton after working a midnight “watch” at the West Milton training facility.
“Acting on instinct to assume the residence was occupied, he pulled over and attempted to warn anyone inside by honking the horn of his truck,” Fort said, reading a letter of commendation later presented to Rogers. “With no response, he remained on the scene and without personal protective equipment risked his own well-being to access the home, ultimately gaining entry and alerting sleeping sailors inside,” Fort said.
Rogers helped three of the sailors sleeping downstairs out of the building, then located a fourth inside and urged him to exit through a second-story window.
Third Class Petty Officer Matthew Herman, who will soon serve aboard the USS Columbia submarine in Hawaii, said he was the sailor who jumped from the second-floor window. He suffered no serious injuries.
The sailors said they were alerted by the sound of someone shouting. The fire they escaped was severe and fast-moving, gutting the house, which had to be demolished.
“Of all the drivers on Route 29 that afternoon, only Pat Rogers had the presence of mind to stop and provide assistance,” Fort said. “His unfailing demonstration of heroic and moral courage saved the lives of four United States Navy sailors,” Fort said, before presenting the framed commendation to Rogers.
Rogers, who has worked at Quad/Graphics in construction and design maintenance for 22 years, said he saw the four cars parked outside the burning house and it looked “scary … something like that wasn’t right.”
He said he had never before done anything like he did on April 30. When he was sure everybody was out of the burning house he called 911.
“I’m just glad they are safe and can continue,” Rogers said after each of his fellow employees lined up and shook his hand.
“You couldn’t ask for a better son-in-law,” said Martha Stanton of Amsterdam, Rogers’ mother-in-law. “He’s always been good to us [Martha and Jim Stanton]. He’s there when we need anything.”
Dan Frankowski, Quad/Graphics’ plant director, coordinated the program honoring Rogers. Rogers was presented with a certificate of thanks and praise from U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook.
Milton Supervisor Dan Lewza said what Rogers did is “exactly what good citizenship is all about.”
“He showed courage, bravery and true humanity,” Lewza said. The Milton Town Board will honor Rogers at a meeting June 6.
Frankowski presented Rogers and his wife, Amy, with two tickets to the Zac Brown Band concert Friday at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. The company had a lottery going for employees for concert tickets with seating on the grass outside the amphitheater.
The tickets presented to Rogers are 9th row center inside the amphitheater, the best seats in the house — seats reserved for a hero.