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VFW Post 5377 presents honors to local first responders

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5377 held its annual awards ceremony for first responders on Tuesday, March 12.

VFW Post Surgeon Phillip Spence said the awards are the post’s way of showing their appreciation to those who put their lives in danger in service to their community and country.

“As men of uniform ourselves, we know what it means to run toward the danger instead of away from it. It takes a special type of person to put their lives on the line, and our firefighters, EMTs and law enforcement officers do just that,” Spence said.

The first award presented was for EMT of the Year, which went to Joshua Brown of the Air Evac Life Team. The award was presented by Brown’s manager, Chris Gibbs.

“My father and grandfather were firefighters, so I’ve been around it my whole life and started by the time I was 19. The things we do are unique,” Brown said.

The award for Firefighter of the Year was presented by Demopolis Fire Chief Keith Murray to Firefighter Lt. Justin King.

“He is very involved in the daily operations of our department and is someone we can all count upon. Justin is also serving as the EMT of our new ambulance service, so he is a very important member of our team,” Murray said in recognizing King.

The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award was presented to two individuals: Cole Basinger and Leslie Hines of the 17th Judicial Task Force. The award was presented by District Attorney Greg Griggers, who credits the officers with saving his life when he was targeted by a gunman in November.

“The work they do each day is invaluable,” Griggers said. “Of course, I wouldn’t be here today if not for them. They didn’t have to do what they did; the could have lost their lives doing it. It’s an honor for me to say I’m here because of them.”

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 10 years and can’t imagine doing anything else” Basinger said.

Hines, who has been in law enforcement 21 years, said it was the preparation and relationship he has with Basinger that led to their efforts the day Griggers was shot.

“Our relationships are more like brothers and God used that relationship to save our lives that day. I couldn’t see (Basinger), but I knew I had to get to there because he was in a gunfight all alone,” Hines said.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 20 issue of the Demopolis Times.)