On Sunday afternoon November 11th, in what could be considered the perfect day, Firefighters along with families, friends and community members came together to officially dedicate the new Southold Town Volunteer Firefighters memorial.
The memorial was designed to memorialize 7 firefighters who sacrificed their lives in line of duty.
The ceremony brings to close a project that has been many years in the making.
The project recently came to fruition following the addition of the "Morning Call" sculpture to the Cochran Park on Peconic in 2011, which is a memorial to the victims of September 11th.
For several years committee members have searched throughout Southold Town for a suitable location for a memorial with limited success. Following the placement of the Osprey, the idea arose to encompass the statue with the Firefighters Memorial and create a "Heroes Plaza" memorializing Southold Town's Fallen Firefighters as well as the victims of September 11th that included FDNY firefighters, emergency workers and innocent civilians.
With Ex-Chief James Lessard of the Mattituck Fire Department spearheading the project, a design was proposed and with the overwhelming support of the Southold Town Board and many community members the project was completed in less than a year.
The ceremony honored 7 firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Following parts of the ceremony that included the Singing of the National Anthem by New Suffolk Resident Denise Podlewski, and words by Greenport Village Mayor David Nyce and Southold Town supervisor Scott Russell, each Department Chief read the name and resume of each of the fallen Firefighters.
The Cutchogue Fire Department honored Firefighter James Parker Wickham:
Narrative Read by Chief David Fohrkolb:
"Today we commemorate and pay tribute to Cutchogue firefighter James Parker Wickham who, on April 5, 1930, lost his life in the line of duty while serving his community. At approximately twelve noon on Saturday, April 5, 1930, the siren on the Cutchogue firehouse sounded for a brush fire near the eastern boundary of the fire district. At the time, 23 year old James Parker Wickham and his younger brother John —both members of United Fire Company No. 1 — were working in the barn on the Wickham farm. Upon hearing the siren, they jumped into John's LaSalle roadster and responded to the call. As they got to the end of the farm road, the fire engine raced by on its way to the alarm. John drove the car out onto Main Road and followed. After traveling a short distance down the road the car swerved to avoid oncoming traffic, causing it to roll over. John was slightly injured. Parker was thrown from the car and killed instantly. James Parker Wickham had been a member of the Cutchogue Fire Department for less than two years at the time of his death. He left behind a wife and two young children."
Each of the fallen firefighters names are inscribed atop their respective department's stone pillar that will serve as a lasting memorial to their sacrifice.
The other Firefighters honored were:
FF George Matthias - Greenport F.D.
FF Eugene Lessard - Mattituck F.D.
FF Richard Sycz, - Greenport F.D.
FF Edward Bellefountaine – Greenport F.D.
FF Keith Purcell - Southold F.D.
FF Frederick Gagen - East Marion F.D.
The Cutchogue Fire Department would like to thank the Southold Town Fire Chiefs Council, along with the Southold Town firefighter's memorial committee for all of their hard work and dedication to this project.
This project would not have been possible without the support of the Town of Southold and these major sponsors:
The Reichert Group
Euroway Masonry Construction
Cutchogue Fire Department Ladies Auxilliary
Mary Jane Purcell
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Milligan
Blue Water Irrigation
Bridgehampton National Bank
Bridgehampton Fire Department
Thank you to everyone who purchased personalized bricks, as part of the "Buy a Brick Campaign". This program will continue as an ongoing project as new bricks will be added on a regular basis. (More info can be found here: http://www.cutchoguefiredept.org/apps/public/news/newsView.cfm?News_ID=447)
Photos taken by: Matthew Martin, Richard Hartmann & Nicole Brewer