Taylor Pardue Staff Reporter
December 2, 2013
Surry County Firefighter Honor Guard raffled off a ceremonial firefighter helmet Wednesday, with surprising results.
The group held its raffle in Surry’s Sheriff Graham Atkinson’s office after selling 219 tickets.The leather helmet was built by Phenix Technologies Inc. of California and given to the winner of the drawing — Tim Winters.
Commander Tim Winters to be exact.
Winters is the head of Ashe County’s honor guard, which Surry’s was modeled after.
Winters received the helmet and contacted Phenix to fashion a shield for the front of the $525 helmet.
The shield will represent all honor guards and what they stand for.
”He will use that in ceremonies forthcoming,” Surry’s Paul Senter said. “That’s going to cost him quite a bit of money to have that done, but he won a nice helmet so he’s going to make it a very special piece for all of us.”
The honor guard’s creation was announced in October’s Surry Board of Commissioners meeting, and is made up of firefighters from across the county. So far there are 12 people on the initial guard and 45 on the roster.
The members represent the three departments Senter and the group have been able to contact so far, each on average producing seven to eight interested fighters.
There are still 16 departments left in the county, meaning the guard could swell to many more members as the group continues to visit monthly meetings and present their work.
The movement for a county-wide honor guard began with Senter’s cousin, Commander Lt. Jim Church of Alleghany’s honor guard, suggesting the formation to Senter.
Prior to the county guard a guard of Mount Airy fire and police existed, but no outlet for firefighters in the rest of the county.
The raffle was a fundraiser to purchase parade gear for the ceremonial activities the group handles.
Using strict military honor guard protocol, the guard can participate in a number of different events.
“We are here for the community,” Senter said. “We are also here … to assist the VFW if they request us. We’re here to assist any military branch if they need our assistance.”
Many members have military experience, including Senter who served in the Air Force.
The group is new, but already their training has allowed them to perform several different functions.
Guard members can post and retrieve colors, whether indoors or out; perform casket duty or a funeral home casket watch; and do a bell service for a fallen firefighter.
“On the horizon, one thing that we’re training to do is a full funeral service outdoors, which would consist of retrieving the casket from the hearse, posting and graveside, folding the flag if one is present, and or performing a bell service at that service outdoors. And flag presentation and playing of taps,” Senter said.”
The guard is also training for weddings, where sabres are used to create an arch for a bride and groom to exit the wedding venue under.
The group took part in Mount Airy’s Christmas parade Saturday, and will carry the U.S., North Carolina and Firefighter flags in this weekend’s Dobson and Elkin parades.
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