Some people have asked, “What would it be like without our emergency services?” Ask someone living in a third world country, and their response will likely be, ”Chaos with much evil works.”
Annually, the local Craig VFW Post #4491 awards individuals working in the emergency services a beautifully framed appreciation certificate and a gift card. They include: the Police Officer of the Year, Firefighter of the Year and Medical Provider of the Year.
Approximately 25 VFW members were present this year to honor the individuals who were elected. Each recipient was congratulated and thanked multiple times for their service. Other citizens attended to show their appreciation too.
Post Commander Billy Lee read aloud each person’s letter of recommendation that was submitted to the VFW. Boisterous handclaps and a few hoots and hollers occurred as this was happening. Adjutant Bill Burleson then presented each person with a gift card to Lowe’s worth $50.
Robert DeCarolis was the first to be acknowledged.
His letter read; “Robert has been a rescue squad member in Craig County since he moved to Blacksburg in 2007 to attend Virginia Tech. He has spent his weekends and breaks staying at CCRS covering duty for over five years.
When Craig County formed the Craig County Emergency Service EMS Agency 01309, Robert was hired part-time before ultimately becoming the Chief.
In 2017, the County Emergency Manager and Emergency Services Coordinator retired, and Robert was hired to fill that opening. Robert provided great leadership and worked a significant number of extra hours to assure 24/7 EMS coverage for the whole county.
In April 2018, Robert decided to return to college to become a registered nurse with an ambition to become a nurse practitioner or doctor. He returned to his part-time position as a paramedic for Craig County. Robert continues to put his personal life second to provide 24/7 coverage in Craig when needed.
Robert provides information services for employee and patient documentation. He also assists and advises with billing and calling reporting reviews. Robert assists Craig County Emergency Management with documentation, recording, reporting and posting incident reports when a disaster or other local and regional emergency happens.
The person who submitted the request for Woody Lipes wrote: “I would like to nominate Woody Lipes for the VFW Firefighter of the Year Award.
Lipes has not only served Craig County, but has spent his Forest Service career working numerous forest fires across the United States. He has been with New Castle Fire Station-4 for 25 years, several of those years spent on the Board of Directors.
He has been integral in making Station 4 what it is today. Lipes is an invaluable resource and role model for new members and his service to the community is greatly appreciated.
The last award was for Police Officer of the Year and the submission letter started out quite differently.
“Sheriff Craddock is like Batman. He has lived his whole life-fighting crime,” it read.
Craddock became a police officer in February of 1989 in Roanoke, through October 1992. Then in November of 1992, he joined the State Police. In January of 2016, he became the Sheriff of Craig County.
He was a Roanoke Police Officer for almost four years, a Virginia State Canine Handler for three years and a Virginia State Trooper for 21 years. For the last three years, he has served as the Craig County Sheriff.
Sheriff Craddock has always served with honor and integrity. He has been awarded multiple awards and citations for his many years of service.
A unique cake was made with each of the service’s emblem at the corner. Drinks and desserts were served while pleasant conversations took place.
Robert DeCarolis was unable to attend.
Lipes shared that he told VFW members, that he felt that they, the Veterans, represent the highest level of public service.
“When the Veterans recognize you for something regarding public service, I think it is a huge honor. Huge! Because they are really the ones who deserve the recognition. I don’t feel like I am deserving of any special recognition any more than any other firefighter in the county is,” he said. “So, I guess I will accept it on behalf of all of them. Firefighting with the forest service has been pretty much my whole life. We all do what we can, and I haven’t done any more than anyone else.”
Sheriff Craddock shared that he was honored that the men and women who fought for our country would be giving him an appreciation award for the job he does in Craig County. “For me to receive an award from them is an honor to me,” he said. “It is these men and women who deserve the honor and appreciation of all they did for us. I am greatly honored and appreciative and humbled to have been given this award.”
Each certificate had their individual emblem of the service within which they are serving, and the appreciation award, signed by both Lee and Burleson, read: Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Certificate of Appreciation. In special recognition and highest praise for alertness, personal courage and ever-efficient guardianship of life and property.
“We really appreciate all of these men who serve our community,” Lee shared.
Many other VFW members added, “We can’t thank them enough for always being there when we need them. All of them are not only great citizens, but great friends as well.”
The room was filled with laughter and joyous conversations. It appeared that true community with respect and honor was ever so present amongst everyone.