Two rural postal carriers honored as heroes for helping save customers

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FARGO — U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., honored the work of the U.S. Postal Service here on Friday, Aug. 18, including the efforts of two mail carriers who went above and beyond to help elderly customers in need.

Heitkamp presented the Postmaster General Hero Award to Josh Hefta, a rural carrier in Minto, N.D., and Meredith Gozdal, a rural carrier in Drayton, N.D.

In early January, Hefta was delivering mail to 94-year-old Alice Paschke, a regular customer who usually met him at the door, when he heard her calling for help from inside her home. Hefta broke down the door to assist Paschke, who had fallen 20 hours earlier and was unable to reach the phone.

Paschke has since recovered and is doing well, and her son regularly checks in with Hefta to keep him updated.

As Hefta accepted his award, his two young sons listened to Heitkamp tell them what a hero their dad is.

"It's just an honor," Hefta said.

Gozdal was doing her regular route when she noticed that the mail of an elderly resident had piled up. Concerned, Gozdal called the house and checked the garage but didn't receive a response. She eventually called the police to do a welfare check, and officers found the resident unresponsive when they entered the house.

The resident was rushed to the hospital, and thankfully survived due to Gozdal's diligence.

"Serving as a mail carrier in a rural community is about more than a job. It's about a relationship with those they serve. Both Mr. Hefta and Ms. Gozdal are wonderful examples of that," Heitkamp said.

Along with honoring Gozdal and Hefta, Sen. Heitkamp swore in two new postmasters for the West Fargo post office and presented eight awards to North Dakota mail carriers for their dedication to improving customer service at the U.S. Postal Office.