Selflessness in the face of disaster earns special recognition - and free airplane trips - for a handful of first responders in five New Jersey shore towns hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy.

First Responders flank Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher (bottom, second from left), flashing their winning smiles and JetBlue travel passes (Debbie Winogracki)

Police, firefighters, and emergency medical workers from Toms River, Seaside Heights, Union Beach, Sea Bright and Middletown were honored in a Wednesday presentation at the Ocean County Library in Toms River.

The highlight of the ceremony was the presentation by JetBlue executives of free round-trip tickets to any of the airline's destination points.

"We have so many deserving First Responders," said Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher in a prepared release, "and I'm grateful to JetBlue for recognizing the actions of some of our local heroes."

Seaside Heights Mayor William Akers added, "It was because of the great effort of the First Responders that there was no loss of life, and we will be forever grateful for that."

The New York-based carrier donated 100 tickets in all, half going to New Jersey and half to New York. The decision among the five Ocean and Monmouth community leaders was to set aside two tickets each for five deserving emergency workers, allowing them to take their spouses on the plane ride of their choice.

JetBlue Vice President of Government Affairs Jeffrey Goodell remarked that the company saw the efforts first hand. "As a small token of our appreciation for their hard work, we are providing roundtrip tickets to First Responders in some of the hardest hit areas."