Tuesday, May 27, 2014
An agent for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, who lives in Georgetown, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his more than two decades of service and his role in capturing a serial bank robber.
Rhett Holden, known to everyone as “Gator,” the son of Ivan and Ann Holden of Georgetown, received the prestigious award during a banquet last week in Columbia.
He was recommended for the award by his boss, SLED Capt. Frank O’Neal.
In his letter of recommendation, O’Neal recalls the bank robbery that occurred at South Carolina Bank and Trust on Fraser Street in Georgetown on Dec. 29, 2011.
Wesley Todd McCracken, 43, walked into the bank and handed the teller a note. The note demanded $3,000 in bills, no smaller than twenties and stated that “we have guns – no bait or dye packs,” O’Neal wrote.
The teller then handed an amount of cash to the man and he fled the bank on foot down Fraser St.
Holden, who was off duty, and his friend – former Georgetown Police investigator Ricky Floyd – were passing by the bank at the same time McCracken was running out of the bank.
“As the suspect ran down the street, Agent Holden joked to his friend that “he probably robbed a bank”. While looking in the rearview mirror, he observed the dye pack explode onto the suspect,” O’Neal wrote.
Holden and Floyd turned their vehicle around and drove through the parking lot of an adjacent business and saw McCracken get into a vehicle.
“They then blocked the suspect’s vehicle with their truck. Agent Holden exited his vehicle, drew his weapon and demanded that the suspect exit his vehicle,” states O’Neal.
Holden identified himself, placed McCracken on the ground and called 911.
“Minutes later, local police swarmed the scene and the suspect was taken into custody,” O’Neal wrote.
During the followup investigation it was learned McCracken was responsible for at least 13 bank robberies in seven states from Florida to Pennsylvania. He was known as the “Nike Hat Bandit” because he was wearing a Nike hat in almost all of the robberies.
In April, McCracken pled guilty to the Georgetown bank robbery and was sentenced to six years in prison.
He is currently awaiting trial on other cases that are pending.
“Agent Holden has been involved in many other dangerous situations as a narcotic agent at SLED.
“These situations have never slowed or deterred his desire to fight drug traffickers and felons who put our citizens and fellow officers in danger,” O’Neal says.
“When an operation is being planned, Agent Holden is the first one called to assist because of his selfless attitude and because agents just feel better knowing he will be there.”
O’Neal said Holden never likes talking about himself which is why he refused to be interviewed.
“Holden believes his actions were just another day at work,” said O’Neal, adding when he puts his life on the line, as he often does, it is “clearly beyond the line of duty.”