Over the next two minutes, Norem would be stabbed seven times, including once in his right eye, yet he would refuse to let go, knowing that his grip was the last defense against catastrophe. This rescue, which occurred Oct. 25, 2012, would become the defining moment for a hero police officer, praised across California for bravery so remarkable that it makes other cops pause in awe. Norem’s selflessness would save a life – likely more than one – but in the process he would be so viciously wounded that he nearly lost his eyesight, his career and his identity.

After the stabbing, it would take three years and a state-of-the-art surgery for Norem to become a full-fledged police officer again. He would finally return to duty just in time to respond to the San Bernardino terror attack, when California needed its cops more than ever. And throughout his recovery, Norem would maintain enlistment in the California Air National Guard, going to the Middle East this year on a deployment that was once considered unthinkable because of his injuries.