There are certain slogans that Veterans of the United States of American regularly repeat. One comes from President Abraham Lincoln that says: “Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”
On Friday, January 12, members of the Craig Valley VFW Post #4491 backed those words up with actions as three citizens of Craig County were honored for their excellent community service for 2017.
VFW Post Commander Billy Lee welcomed everyone and read the letter of recommendation which was selected by the VFW members.
This is the third year in which the VFW has held a presentation to celebrate some of Craig’s most exceptional people. “We know what it is to serve and want these people who give of themselves to know we appreciate what they do as well,” countless VFW members shared.
The first person honored was Morgan Murray, the EMS Provider of the Year recipient. Lee read her recommendation letter.
“Morgan has been with our organization since 2015 and has demonstrated an excellence for patient care. She provides the highest level of care to our patients from start to finish. However, she contributes beyond daily patient care. She volunteers to help with training and quality assurance to improve patient care for all providers. Morgan also treats the other members of the organization like family. She is known for her reliability at work and is the first-person people call when they must trade shifts. She cares about Craig County Emergency Service and its citizens in a manner not often seen in paid organizations. All this is done while she attends college. She is dedicated and driven, and exhibits the qualities of the EMS Provider of the Year.”
Morgan shared that she was so surprised to be chosen. At a young 24 years of age, she has only been on the squad since 2014. However, she has been closely connected to the EMS as her mother Jen Mann has been a paramedic since 2008.
“I started out as a volunteer at home,” Morgan said who is now a paramedic and currently in the Nursing program at Virginia Western.
She also drives the squads, does patient care and community outreach for good checks amongst the citizens of Craig. “It’s like taking care of family,” she added. “It is an honor to receive this award.”
Billy Lee also spoke about Robert Wrzosek, a Law Enforcement Officer of the Year nominee.
“I would like to nominate Deputy Sheriff/E911 Coordinator Robert Wrzosek for the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. Deputy Wrzosek handles two positions for the Sheriff’s office, Deputy Sheriff and E911 coordinator. He is a hardworking and highly capable Deputy Sheriff. He is also the Captain of the Craig County Volunteer Rescue Squad and is a great asset to the Sheriff’s Office as well as Craig County. Deputy Wrzosek consistently enforces traffic and criminal offenses and makes Craig County a safer place for our citizens to live. It is an honor to supervise and work with someone of such high caliber.”
“It was a complete surprise,” Deputy Wrzosek said afterward. “I truly enjoy my work.”
Previously, Wrzosek was a dispatcher for two years before being hired as a deputy where he served for almost three years. He has also been on the Rescue Squad for over five years.
“I love to work here,” he said. “Everyone is good to work with at the Sheriff’s Office, Rescue Squad, with the volunteers and the paid department. And yes, I even like Brent.”
Lee then announced the final recipient which was for Fireman of the Year award.
“Brent Crush is the active Chief for New Castle/Craig County Volunteer Fire Department. He has always been a leader within the department and throughout the community. Brent is also an instructor with the Department of Fire Programs of Virginia. Brent has put in countless years within Craig County volunteering his time as a Fire Fighter and leader. He continues to be very active in leading the training in Craig County. His service and dedication to the Fire Service of Craig County should be recognized with this award.”
After Lee presented Crush with his Certificate of Appreciation, he turned and was met by Lieutenant Renee Mullins of Craig County Emergency Services, with a bouquet of beautiful yellow roses, chocolates and a card.
Though many in Craig know that much doesn’t embarrass Crush, a bit of red seemed to shine through his big smile as he said, “She’s going to pay! I hope we get a call and there is a hose on the truck because I know somebody is going to get wet.”
VFW member Dennis White encouraged Crush to read his card aloud. He opened it and read, “Congratulations, you are an ‘asset,’” in which everyone broke into laughter “I don’t understand,” he said trying not to laugh. “I am nice to everybody. I never bother anybody or fuss at them…now do I, Morgan?”
Later Mullins said that she had told him she was going to get him flowers to which he jokingly said, “I’ll kill you.” Mullins then admitted with a big smile, “So I went and bought the brightest ones I could find!”
Crush shared a little of his history when asked why he joined the Fire Department. “A lot of major things happened to me in 1975. My daddy died that March, I joined the Fire Department in May, I started dating my wife Bonnie at the Fireman’s supper in August and I went to work for the phone company August 25,” he said.
When asked how it felt to be nominated as Fireman of the year, he smiled and said, “Oh, I know that. I’ve been a fireman for 42 years and I’m the best there is.”
Each recipient was presented a Certificate of Appreciation by Billy Lee and given a check from Quartermaster Bill Burleson of the Craig County VFW.
Everyone enjoyed the celebration cake and drinks afterward, but most of the fun seemed to be the conversation that permeated throughout the building.
The handshakes from the VFW members to the winning recipients seemed to say more than just thank you. Joseph Campbell wrote, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
He added: “Whether a soldier on the front line or an EMS person trying to save a life, a Firefighter going into a fire hoping to bring a family out safely or a Police Officer stopping someone for violating a law, hoping to enter back into his car unharmed, something common can be said for them all. If you want to thank a soldier or First Responder, be the kind of American worth fighting for.”