VFW honors Suffolk citizens

Published 8:56 pm Saturday, December 15, 2012

After an awards ceremony Friday, award winners assembled for a photo at the Pughsville headquarters of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9382.

Well acquainted with the practice of serving, a group of Suffolk veterans paid tribute Friday to the community-mindedness of a group of men, women and children.

Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9382 gathered at its Pughsville headquarters on a chilly evening to share a meal and honor outstanding members of the community with an awards ceremony.

“It’s something we do to encourage the young people,” post Youth Director Billy Blackmon said of two important aspects of the awards, the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest for elementary school students and, for their high school counterparts, The Voice of Democracy contest.

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“It’s a nationwide thing of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The winner from this post goes to the district, then that winner goes to state, then the nationals.”

Young Dylan Freeman wrote about the Constitution in his winning Patriot’s Pen entry, receiving his award alongside the likes of Nansemond River High school resource officer Andre Weaver, Police Officer of the Year Award winner, and Florence Michener, a Florence Bowser Elementary educator named Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Other award recipients were Heather Davis, Gaulvan Key and Jenelle Jones, who won first, second and third place, respectively, in the Voice of Democracy contest; and Beau Whitton, who won third place in the Patriot’s Pen contest.

Maureen Blunt was named Teacher of the Year for middle school and Deborah Copeland for high school, while Dave Harrell of Suffolk Fire and Rescue was awarded Firefighter of the Year.

Colton Pulley, also of Suffolk and Fire Rescue, was named Paramedic of the Year. He spoke of the “two years of hard training” required to attain his career position.

The award, he said, “comes from the people I work with. It’s great to be able to be recognized by the community.

“To have the men and women that I work beside every day to feel that I was worthy of an award is humbling and unexpected.”

The gathering inside the small cinderblock building on Pughsville Road was treated to readings by teachers of the winning student essays.

“One teacher, she was getting tears because of what she was reading out,” said post Commander Terry Copeland.

“She was trying to get her composure back a couple of minutes after reading it.”