An honor deserved

Published 9:36 pm Monday, December 8, 2008

Ronald Hatfield embodies the spirit of emergency services volunteers from Suffolk and the surrounding communities. Chosen as Holland Volunteer Fire Department’s Outstanding Firefighter of the Year during a department meeting last week, Hatfield humbly suggested that fellow members of the department were just as deserving of the honor as he was. “I was kind of surprised” to receive the award, he said.

For anyone familiar with Hatfield’s history of public service, though, the award should come as anything but a surprise. As a Suffolk police officer, he spent a decade getting to know firefighters in the area before deciding that he wanted to join their ranks. He then spent 25 years as a paid firefighter, first with Nansemond County and then, after the merger, with the city of Suffolk.

Finally the time came to retire after a total of 35 years in Suffolk public safety. But the draw of the firehouse and his desire to help his community proved to be too much for Hatfield to resist, and he decided he’d continue his public safety service as a volunteer, joining the Holland department and supporting the paid staff there.

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At a time of life when many people seek to wind down and enjoy a well-deserved rest, Hatfield stepped in to lend a hand. And when they honored him for doing so, Hatfield paid tribute to his fellow firefighters, instead of taking all the glory for himself.

He represents what is best in public servants. And, fortunately for Suffolk residents, his nature is quite common amongst those volunteer and paid members who serve in the city’s emergency services. On the occasion of Hatfield’s award, it’s appropriate to honor him and also to remember Suffolk’s other unsung heroes.