Mary Lou Smith won't hesitate to tell you she's had a lot of guardian angels around lately.
But her favorite one, by far, is Kim Hawkinson.
On Dec. 12, Hawkinson, a carrier for the Ralston Post Office, was on her usual rounds when she arrived at Smith's house on Main Street and found flames coming from the front windows.
Hawkinson managed to push the door open, found Smith and the two fled the burning house.
"Kim is my best friend," said Smith, who earlier this month was present as Hawkinson received the American Police Hall of Fame's Life Saving Award at the Ralston City Council's regular meeting. "Until you go through it, you don't know how many friends you have, but Kim's the best."
Hawkinson and her actions were nominated for the award by Ralston Police Chief Ron Murtaugh.
The American Police Hall of Fame, a Titusville, Fla.-based organization that votes on about 50 such awards annually, unanimously approved Hawkinson for the recognition.
Hawkinson said she was just doing her job. "I was in the right place at the right time," she said.
But Omaha Postmaster Keith Reid, on hand at the ceremony, said Hawkinson's actions are a reason for her and her colleagues in the U.S. Postal Service to be proud.
"It's above and beyond the duties," Reid said. "It's a tremendous honor to know we have employees of that character, who would risk that for a member of the public."