Krista McDonald was recognized for her bravery in rushing into the middle of a shoot out in the parking lot of a Walmart in Port Orchard two years ago.
The shootings left a gunman and a 13-year-old runaway with the gunman dead, and two deputies wounded.
"Duty, honor, courage -- these are the common denominators shared by 18 police officers and firefighters being honored today," Vice President Joe Biden said as he awarded the medals.
The public safety officer Medal of Valor is the highest national awarded at this level. It goes to those who've demonstrated exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety -- exactly the qualities exhibited by McDonald.
The incident began when two deputies approached Anthony Martinez in the Walmart parking lot to ask him for identification after receiving a suspicious person report. Martinez bolted and started firing, hitting Deputy John Roy Stacy in the right shoulder and Deputy Andrew Ejde in the left shoulder and right arm.
McDonald then shoots Martinez but he still managed to fatally shoot 13-year-old Astrid Valdivia before turning the gun on himself.
"In protecting fellow officers and doing all she could to help that girl, Deputy McDonald exhibited extraordinary courage under fire," Biden said. "Thank you."
Both deputies hit by the shooter survived.
"I have a theory that there's a fine line between bravery and stupidity," McDonald said after receiving the medal. "We put ourselves out there never knowing who's going to want to do us harm, or if it's the day that we might not come home."
The National Sheriffs' Association honored McDonald last year as well, saying she "exhibited selfless bravery and courage at a time when it was needed the most."