Seven years of dedicated efforts to build a memorial wall to honor fallen fire and EMS personnel who died in the line of duty in the county became a reality on Oct. 15, at a special ceremony.
The wall is located at Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center in the Chesterfield County's government complex.
Rain pelted the officials, family, friends and visitors and the air was bone-chilling cold. But the elements failed to damper the warm spirit of the occasion.
The wall project team was spear-headed by retired Battalion Chief David Palumbo.
Palumbo was approached in 2003 by former Chesterfield Fire Chief Stephen Elswick about putting together plans and funding for the memorial.
"The plan at one time was to raise funds to build a memorial for police and fire together but it didn’t happen," Palumbo said. "The county police department built its own memorial.”
The project was not easy but diligence and patience saw it through.
“I set lots of goals, “ Palumbo explained with his boyish grin, “and if they weren’t reached, I just set some more. "
Chief Senter expressed the department’s appreciation in his comments.
“We thank retired Battalion Chief David Palumbo for all of his dedication,” said Senter,” and we are grateful for all who have assisted and worked on this project.”
The $120,000 wall was and is being built entirely with donated materials and funds. Still to be added are two bronze plaques. Additional funds will also help with maintaining the wall.
The personnel who are remembered are:
*Joseph E. Newsome- a career firefighter who joined the department in 1988. Newsome achieved the rank of Captain. He received many awards for his acts of selfless service, some of which he risked his life to do. Newsome was presented with a Medal of Valor in 2004 for his heroic acts during Tropical Storm Gaston. The seasoned firefighter died in the line of duty on April 23, 2007 after experiencing a medical emergency during physical training.
*Bradley Curtis McNeer-a volunteer firefighter with Bon Air Volunteer Fire Department. McNeer graduated from recruit school in August 1999. On Dec. 18, 1999, the 22 year-old was died in the line of duty in a fire vehicle accident while responding to call. A scholarship fund was established to honor his name.
*Patrick G. Mason-a volunteer EMT with Bensley-Bermuda Volunteer Rescue Squad. Mason was killed in the line of duty On Nov. 8, 1981, when he was struck by a hit and run driver while operating at the scene of an automobile accident on Jefferson Davis Highway. Mason was 22.
*Joseph Willard Sullivan Jr.-A volunteer firefighter and charter member of the Matoaca Volunteer Fire Department. He was dedicated and served valiantly for 22 years as a volunteer firefighter. He served in multiple leadership positions including assistant chief. Sullivan died in the line of duty after suffering a medical emergency while responding to an emergency call on Nov. 18,1973.