Special Report

Biggest Heroes of the Year

Source: Rich Polk / Getty Images

11. Dr. Jane Aronson

Dr. Jane Aronson, a pediatric physician, was named one of 2019’s Top Global Humanitarian Leaders for her work as CEO of Worldwide Orphans, an organization that provides education, medicine, and emotional support for orphaned and abandoned children across the globe. The organization has reached children in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean.

Source: U.S. Army photo / Vin Stevens

12. Pfc. Glendon Oakley

Pfc. Glendon Oakley, a soldier in the 1st Armored Division, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his actions during the Aug. 3 shooting at an El Paso Walmart. Oakley was shopping at Cielo Vista Mall when he heard the gunfire. He then noticed a group of frightened children who he guided and carried away from the gunfire to safety. “They were just scared, so I just did what I could do,” Oakley said, adding that he may not have reacted as he did if it were not for his military training. “I’m thankful to be in the military and for what they’ve taught me.”

Source: Victor Boyko / Getty Images

13. Dr. Tom Catena

Sudan has spent a good part of the 21st century in war and conflict. This strife has made it difficult for much of Sudan’s population to find access to quality health care — especially in remote areas like the Nuba Mountains, where humanitarian aid is restricted. Dr. Tom Catena is currently the only doctor permanently stationed in that region as part of the Sudan Relief Fund. Catena estimates that he performs over 1,000 operations annually.

Source: Courtesy of U.S. Department of Defense

14. Conan

Following the U.S. military operation that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, President Donald Trump released an image of the only American injured in the siege — a Belgian Malinois. Though the dog’s name was classified when the dog’s photo was released, the public has since learned the four-legged fighter is named Conan, after comedian and talk show host Conan O’Brien.

Conan played a critical role in taking out Baghdadi, chasing him down a tunnel and cornering him before he detonated a suicide vest. Conan’s injuries were minor and treatable.

Source: Mike Coppola / Getty Images

15. Umra Omar

Umra Omar is the founder and director of Safari Doctors, a group that provides medical care to people along Kenya’s coast. This project fills a void left after a previous medical aid project in the area was scrapped because of security concerns over terrorist group Al-Shabaab. Across eight villages, Omar and Safari Doctors help treat hundreds of patients every month. The team has been lauded by the United Nations, CNN, and others.