Local heroes honored for their valor

In an attempt to convey the importance of the day to those not in the room, Michelle DiFebo Freeman, widow of Josh Freeman – for whom the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards have been renamed – offered a challenge to both the recipients of this year’s award and the guests at last Friday’s awards luncheon at Cripple Creek Golf and Country Club in Dagsboro: share it.

Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor: All the recipients of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards pose for a photograph after the ceremony.Coastal Point • Jesse Pryor
All the recipients of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards pose for a photograph after the ceremony.

“Philanthropy without advocacy is nothing,” said Freeman. “To write a check, which I do often, and not ask people to help out – it doesn’t work. I stand before you today as an advocate for valor. Talk to a child about what it means to be a hero.”

Freeman then read a note from her deceased husband that he had written to their son Nick at age 5, speaking to the importance of a strong character: “At the end of the game, the relationships you made is all you have – they are the honor and legacy you leave.”

She then expressed her gratitude to the award recipients, for all they do to defend honor and courage.

Tim Halverstadt, vice president of Freeman Companies and a retired Marine, spoke Feb. 6 about the mythical heroes of Greek mythology and the true-to-life heroes, such as the Valor Award recipients, who quietly surround people every day.

“These true heroes have respect and are courageous. They are true humanitarians and are always selfless and humble. They are people who inspire us to be better,” he said. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Recipients of the 2009 Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards included members of the Ocean View and Bethany Police departments and the Selbyville, Roxana, Millville and Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire departments. They were:

• Cpl. Mark Burton of the Ocean View Police Department, sponsored by Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin. McLaughlin wrote in his nomination that, after a brutal beating of a 4-year-old child in Salisbury, Md., the suspect in that crime fled and had gone into hiding in Ocean View. Burton discovered his location, raided the home and took the man, who was also a registered sex offender, into custody. The man was later convicted of child abuse and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

• Chief Michael Redmond of the Bethany Beach Police Department, sponsored by Director of Public Safety Ralph Mitchell. Redmond was nominated for improving morale over the past seven years as chief. He is a 20-year veteran of the BBPD. Redmond has worked for years to get accreditation for the department and, in July of 2008, he reached that goal. The department is the only “Class A” (25 officers or fewer) department in Delaware to receive accreditation and only the third of its size in the entire U.S. to receive that mark. “It’s a great honor,” added Redmond of receiving the award. “Sometimes, you think things go unnoticed…”

• Firefighter William Turner of the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company, sponsored by Fire Chief Bob Eckman. Turner began his fire service career in 1972 and has held the positions of fire chief as a member of the Ocean Pines (Md.) Fire Company. He has also held positions of chief engineer, assistant chief, training officer, EMT-A and CRT-EMT. He has been exceptionally involved in Selbyville since joining in 2003 and has responded to 747 alarms. He is also a nationally registered emergency medical technician and an active member of the Fire Police.

• Fire Chief Glenn Johnson Jr. of the Roxana Volunteer Fire Company, sponsored by Andy Johnson. Glenn Johnson has been a top-five responder, a top-10 EMS responder, and president, and has perfect attendance for fire meetings. He also has been very helpful with technology and started the department’s first Web site in 2003. He was awarded the 2007 Firefighter of the Year award. “I was surprised,” said Johnson of the award. “I was not expecting it.”

• Deputy Fire Chief Justin Norman of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company, sponsored by Fire Chief Brian Martin. Norman is a repeat recipient of the Joshua M. Freeman Valor Award. He received the award through the OVPD, where he is a police officer, last year. This year, Norman was asked to fill the position of deputy fire chief and stepped up to the (full) plate for the time-consuming task of getting everyone ready for the start up of the new ambulance service.

• Lt. Gregory Hocker of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, sponsored by Fire Chief Shawn Evans. Hocker has been a member since 2002 and has always been a top responder. This year, he has been assigned to assist with the operational readiness of the fire company and has unmatched dedication to his volunteer position.

“We are grateful to the Carl M. Freeman Companies, our presenting sponsors and Delmarva Power, the supporting sponsor, for helping us recognize these outstanding public servants,” said Andrew Cripps, executive director of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce. “We hope that by presenting these awards, we can show our appreciation to these heroes and encourage others to dedicate themselves to community service.”