Eugene Petrucci, a mail carrier for the Furlong Post Office, was recognized for his bravery Tuesday when he received the Postmaster General Hero Award.
The retired U.S. Army Captain was on his rural mail route in the Furlong section of Buckingham Township in January when a customer rushed to his truck, saying a neighboring house was on fire.
He saw smoke was coming from the attached garage of the home and thought, “Oh, my God, maybe they’re home,” he recalled thinking during an interview Tuesday. And, he knew the family’s large dogs would be inside.
Without really thinking about it, he said, “I rushed to the front door and began pounding on it and the windows.” By then, the smoke was turning to fire.
The former paratrooper drove his shoulder into the door and it opened. “Two dogs came barreling out and a third popped its head out but went back inside,” he said. No one was home.
Being a smart mailman, Petrucci, 60, keeps dog treats in his truck. He returned to the house and tried to tempt the third dog out, but couldn’t. Now, “the garage was engulfed in flames,” he said.
Firefighters arrived shortly afterward and were able to rescue the third dog, a black Labrador named Lola, and bring the fire under control.
Petrucci was humble about the award and being named a hero. “I just did what I would normally do. People on my route are very important to me,” he said.
Asked if his military training influenced his quick reaction, Petrucci said, “I’m sure of it. Airborne school and being a paratrooper teach you to ignore your fears and do what you need to do. You don’t panic.”
Colleen Hilton, the Furlong postmaster, said Petrucci’s actions didn’t come as a shock. “It didn’t surprise me at all…he put through this extra effort and did this amazing thing.”