Honoring those who serve

Published 10:16 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Veterans of Foreign Wars does a lot of good service, and the Joe Bagley Post 2582, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary, really goes above and beyond in Suffolk, not only to serve veterans but also to honor those still serving in other capacities.

On June 6, the post presented awards to two members of the Suffolk Department of Fire & Rescue and one member of the Suffolk Police Department during its annual public safety awards.

The VFW regularly honors local public safety personnel, using criteria including demonstrated recognition by colleagues and citizens, consistent excellence in the performance of duties, consistent dedication to official responsibilities and continuous growth in responsibilities and skills.

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We think the three Suffolk public servants chosen this year fit those criteria very well. Their work is regularly extolled on these pages, and we are thrilled to note their recognition once again.

Suffolk Fire & Rescue Department Lt. Jeffrey W. Matthews has been in the department for about nine years. He’s currently the emergency medical services supervisor on “C” shift, 1st Battalion operating out of Fire Station 1 on Market Street. He holds numerous professional certifications and is certified as a paramedic. He has been described as having an amazing work ethic and can-do attitude, according to a city press release, and is constantly conducting trainings and other ancillary duties vital to the health of the fire and rescue service.

Battalion Chief John D. “Demitri” Wilson has been in the Suffolk Department of Fire & Rescue for about 19 years. He’s currently the Battalion Chief on “A” shift in the 1st Battalion operating out of Fire Station 1 on Market Street. He’s described in the city press release as a highly self-motivated professional who strives for excellence, has an outgoing personality and a strong work ethic. He’s the department’s ambassador in many different areas and is frequently called upon for special assignments.

Suffolk Police Department Detective Rachelann Cain just can’t receive enough praise for everything she has done. From March to December 2016, she was almost solely focused on a homegrown would-be terrorist and Suffolk resident, Lionel Nelson Williams, who had aligned himself with the terrorist group ISIL. He believed he was supporting the group monetarily — but actually was communicating with an undercover FBI agent — and had purchased assault rifles. Throughout the investigation, Cain, in her capacity assigned to the Norfolk Joint Terrorism Task Force, and other members of the task force learned that Williams may have been planning to carry out a terrorist attack locally.

Even after Williams’ arrest, Cain spent another eight months preparing for the case to go to trial up until Williams accepted a plea deal in August 2017.

Cain, who ditched part of her Christmas vacation with her family in 2016 to return to Suffolk when Williams’ behavior escalated, deserves all the credit and honors that have been bestowed on her.

All three of these honors are well deserved by these esteemed public servants. We thank them for their service, and we thank the Joe Bagley VFW Post 2582 for taking time to recognize them.

The veterans in the VFW post already have completed one chapter of honorable service to their nation, but they continue to serve in another capacity by helping their fellow veterans and through recognitions like these, bestowing awards upon those still serving. That, we believe, is very commendable.