They train, they respond and families support them

Chief Matt Bonney, left, and Matt Miller from Long Beach Fire Department. In commending Miller as firefighter of the year, Bonney took time to praise the families of all those who serve and protect.

Every year the Don R. Grable American Legion Post 48 in Ilwaco holds its annual law and order awards.

And every year it is a pleasurable duty for the Chinook Observer to put a human face on the men and women who protect our community.

The event honors law enforcement personnel, the U.S. Coast Guard and the South Pacific County Technical Rescue Team. It also commends fire personnel in Long Beach, Pacific County No. 1 and Ilwaco departments.

Some are paid, some are volunteers. But the two most evident factors that single out those who are honored are that they demonstrate a commitment to professional training and display a caring approach to community service.

Matt Bonney, Long Beach fire chief, is among those asked each year to nominate someone from his department who is worthy of individual recognition. This year it was Matt Miller and our story reflects his accomplishments with 10 others.

In submitting his nomination letter to Dick Wallace, the hardworking Legion leader who organizes the annual event, Bonney offered some thoughts about the role of volunteer firefighters.

It is eloquent in its sincerity and simplicity. We’d like to quote it in full.

“As volunteer firefighters, we are expected to drop everything and come running when the siren wails,” Chief Bonney wrote.

“We put our lives on hold to protect the lives of others and occasionally one of our lives does not resume afterwards. We are expected to be pillars of our community and role models for children.

“We experience the harshest physical and emotional conditions alongside our police and EMS brethren and we then go back to work or home without skipping a beat after helping one person or many people in their most dire hours.

“This is understood by volunteers and their families nationwide.”

In honoring the fire, police, rescue and Coast Guard personnel who have been chosen for recognition this year, it’s timely and overdue to thank their families, too.

Our community is significantly indebted to them for their support.

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