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2010-10-27 / News

Fallen heroes remembered with memorial wall

By Becky Robinette Wright
Contributing Writer

Seven years of effort to build a memorial wall to honor fallen fire and EMS personnel who died in the line of duty in the county came to a close earlier this month during a special dedication ceremony. The wall is located at the Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center in the county’s government complex.

Dan Gecker (podium), chairman of the board of supervisors, thanks all who took part in the memorial wall project. Becky Robinette Wright/Chesterfield Observer Dan Gecker (podium), chairman of the board of supervisors, thanks all who took part in the memorial wall project. Becky Robinette Wright/Chesterfield Observer Rain pelted county officials, family, friends and visitors, but the elements failed to douse the warm spirit of the occasion.

Battalion Chief Mark Nugent was master of ceremonies and read the names of the fallen.

“We are gathered here today to remember these men and all they gave,” said Fire Chief Edward. L. Senter.

The wall project was spearheaded by retired Battalion Chief David Palumbo. Palumbo was approached in 2003 by former Fire Chief Steve Elswick about putting together plans and funding for the memorial.

The memorial lists the names of those who died in the line of duty. Becky Robinette Wright/Chesterfield Observer The memorial lists the names of those who died in the line of duty. Becky Robinette Wright/Chesterfield Observer “The plan at one time was to raise funds to build a memorial for police and fire together, but it didn’t happen,” Palumbo said. “The county police department built its own memorial.”

The project was not easy, but diligence and patience saw it through.

“I set lots of goals,” Palumbo explained with his boyish grin, “and if they weren’t reached, I just set some more. The point was to just keep moving forward.”

Senter expressed the department’s appreciation during his comments.

“We thank retired Battalion Chief David Palumbo for all of his dedication,” said Senter, “and we are grateful for all who have assisted and worked on this project.”

The wall lists the following personnel:

• Joseph E. Newsome, a career firefighter who joined the department in 1988. Newsome achieved the rank of captain. He received many awards for his acts of selfless service, some of which he risked his life to do. Newsome was presented with a Medal of Valor in 2004 for his heroic acts during Tropical Storm Gaston. The seasoned firefighter died on April 23, 2007, after experiencing a medical emergency during physical training.

• Bradley Curtis McNeer, a volunteer firefighter with Bon Air Volunteer Fire Department. McNeer graduated from recruit school in August 1999. On Dec. 18, 1999, the 22-year-old died in a fire vehicle accident while responding to a call. A scholarship fund was established in his name.

• Patrick G. Mason, a volunteer EMT with Bensley-Bermuda Volunteer Rescue Squad. Mason, 22, was killed on Nov. 8, 1981, when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while at the scene of an automobile accident on Jefferson Davis Highway.

• Joseph Willard Sullivan Jr., a volunteer firefighter and charter member of the Matoaca Volunteer Fire Department. Sullivan died after suffering a medical emergency while responding to a call on Nov. 18, 1973.

The $120,000 wall was built entirely with donated materials and funds. Two bronze plaques are still to be added. Additional funds will help maintain the wall.

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