Historic Badge Pinning Ceremony Held for Palominas Firefighters

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Dateline: Palominas, Arizona

December 10, 2011: For the first time in the history of the Palominas Fire District, a badge pinning ceremony was held in the Palominas School gymnasium for local firefighters. Thanks to the leadership of Fire Chief Sherry Hunter and the Palominas Fire District Governing Board, these men and women who regularly put themselves on the line were accorded a brief but important bit of recognition.

This was a very. Big. Deal. It mattered to those attending.

An hour before the scheduled start time of 11:30 a.m. on this blue-sky Saturday morning, Fire Department vehicles, firefighters, family members, and members of the public were already gathering. It didn’t even matter that there was a bit of difficulty and delay in figuring out how to get the overhead lights in the gym to come on and stay that way.

The Color Guard (complete with bagpipes) was already inside, rehearsing the march around the room that would present our nation’s colors and set the tone for the badge pinnings to come. People were–yes, in the semi-dark–depositing dishes of food on the wall-side tables for the potluck that would follow the ceremony. There was a feel in the air.

This meant something.

1. Fire truck with flags flying.

1. Fire truck with flags flying.

2. Color Guard and Piper from Sierra Vista Fire Department.

2. Color Guard and Piper from Sierra Vista Fire Department.

3. Fire Chief Sherry Hunter.

3. Fire Chief Sherry Hunter.

 4. Palominas Fire District Governing Board Members attending the badge pinning ceremony. Left to right: Tommy Stoner (Board Clerk), Debbie Stoner (Board Chairperson), Lloyd Trachtenburg (Treasurer).


4. Palominas Fire District Governing Board Members attending the badge pinning ceremony. Left to right: Tommy Stoner (Board Clerk), Debbie Stoner (Board Chairperson), Lloyd Trachtenburg (Treasurer).

Caveat: I must apologize for not knowing the names of the firefighters…so the photos displayed on this page are numbered. Feel free to leave comments identifying one or more individual by photo number. (Names were given as the badges were pinned, but there was no way I dared put down the camera long enough to take notes.)

Acknowledgement: The names were all posted (see Comments) within 48 hours of publication, and the photos of the firefighters have now been identified. Special thanks to Debbie Stoner and Lori Samples.

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Following the Pledge of Allegiance (yes, we still do that) and the opening prayer (that, too), the first firefighter pinned was–Chief Hunter herself. Sherry livened things up a bit when she yelped like she’d been stuck with the pin. There was a lot of laughter going around the room just prior to this snapshot.

5. Fire Chief Sherry Hunter.

5. Fire Chief Sherry Hunter.

Following her pinning, Chief Hunter introduced several speakers, none of whom were members of the Palominas Fire Department but all of whom she’d worked with closely during the horrendous Monument Fire (June 2011) and since. These speakers tended to underscore one key point a lot:

The Palominas Fire Department is in good hands with Sherry Hunter as Chief.

Additionally, at least one speaker pointed out that the Fire Board deserved a great deal of credit for having selected Hunter as the new Chief earlier this year.

6. Mike Evans, County Emergency Management Coordinator.

6. Mike Evans, County Emergency Management Coordinator.

 7. Gerry Gonzalez, District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.


7. Gerry Gonzalez, District Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

8. Chief Randy Redmond, Sierra Vista Fire Department.

8. Chief Randy Redmond, Sierra Vista Fire Department.

9. Pat Call, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.

9. Pat Call, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors.

10. Chief Joseph DeWolf , Sonoita Fire Department.

10. Chief Joseph DeWolf , Sonoita Fire Department.

11. Senator Gail Griffin.

11. Senator Gail Griffin.

Each firefighter chooses his or her own person (or people) to do the badge pinning. Some of the photos pretty much speak for themselves.

 12. Ready for the main event.


12. Ready for the main event.

13. Firefighter Brian Olson, pinned by his son Kevin Olson.

13. Firefighter Brian Olson, pinned by his son Kevin Olson.

14. Firefighter Jon Ecapule.

14. Firefighter Jon Ecapule.

15. Firefighter Kevin Nickell.

15. Firefighter Kevin Nickell.

16. Firefighter Bruce Crowell.

16. Firefighter Bruce Crowell.

17. Firefighter Walter Webb.

17. Firefighter Walter Webb.

18.Firefighter Pete Chavez.

18.Firefighter Pete Chavez.

19.  Firefighter Bill McGaughey.

19. Firefighter Bill McGaughey.

At this point in the ceremony, my Canon PowerShot announced that its power was…starting to get shot. No longer a full three bars on the display. Time to conserve, cut down the number of shutter clicks to just one per firefighter in hopes nobody gets missed.

20. Firefighter Micheal Kean.

20. Firefighter Micheal Kean.

 21. Firefighter Casey Gregory.


21. Firefighter Casey Gregory.

22. Firefighter Mason Lacollaide.

22. Firefighter Mason Lacollaide.

23. Firefighter Dominic Mejia.

23. Firefighter Dominic Mejia.

24. Firefighter Jadd Sarah.

24. Firefighter Jadd Sarah.

25. Firefighter Brett Scheib.

25. Firefighter Brett Scheib.

26. Firefighter David Merideth.

26. Firefighter David Merideth.

27. Firefighter Steven Schlotmann.

27. Firefighter Steven Schlotmann.

 28. Firefighter Tyler Hardt.


28. Firefighter Tyler Hardt.

Things were getting scary: The Low Battery indicator was down to one bar and spending that one rapidly by flashing its “Lookout, Sucka!” warning.

Should have thought to buy a spare battery. At least I now knew why the camera case came with that little extra zip pocket on the front of the thing.

Crossing fingers. Which may explain the occasional “fuzzed” shot–if yours is one of those, my apologies.

30. Firefighter Darl Goode, pinned by Chief Sherry Hunter.

30. Firefighter Darl Goode, pinned by Chief Sherry Hunter.

31. Firefighter Goode and Chief Hunter after the pinning.

31. Firefighter Goode and Chief Hunter after the pinning.

32. Firefighter Sarah De La Torre.

32. Firefighter Sarah De La Torre.

33. Firefighter Amanda King.

33. Firefighter Amanda King.

34. Battalion Chief Aldy Alvarez.

34. Battalion Chief Aldy Alvarez.

35. Freshly pinned and badges gleaming.

35. Freshly pinned and badges gleaming.

And…done. The camera battery held out! Even managed to catch a shot of Senator Gail Griffin closing the ceremony by reading the Fireman’s Code.

At least, I think that’s what she was reading. It wasn’t that easy to make out the words, being perched atop the highest row of bleachers across the gym from the microphone.

Sorry, no photos of the great turkey-and-other-stuff potluck feed that followed.

In closing this post, I have to say: It was an honor being present for this historic badge pinning ceremony for the Palominas firefighters. To one and all who wear the badge, thank you for your service.

36. Senator Gail Griffin.

36. Senator Gail Griffin.

37. Fire truck.

37. Fire truck.

2 thoughts on “Historic Badge Pinning Ceremony Held for Palominas Firefighters

  1. Each and everyone of them are my true heroes, we will never forget the dedication and bravery they each gave during the days of the “Monument Fire” forever a memory of life in this desert mountain region we live in. Thank You All!

  2. Thanks for commenting–a lot! This is one of hundreds of posts I moved from my HubPages account when this website of my own got up and running in September/October of 2013. I was able to copy and paste every basic post but had to leave all the comments behind. It’s good to see one (comment) on here again.

    Pam’s ailments include COPD, so her breathing is compromised. We live way out in the valley, SE of Palominas, down by the border, so we were never at risk of evacuation–but the high flying gas clouds from the Monument Fire and the smoke in the air was enough that she had to stay inside as much as possible. Even several miles from the nearest flames, the Monument Fire could not be taken lightly.

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