Lauded for his professionalism and integrity, Reese Hunt was named the Tyler Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year during the department’s 22nd annual awards banquet on Saturday.
The first presentation was the Firefighter Association Award, given to Mayor Barbara Bass. It was a commemorative 9/11 album.
In accepting the award, Ms. Bass said the most critical responsibility a city has is public safety and law enforcement. Saying firefighters have a special calling, Ms. Bass thanked everyone in “our firefighter family for what you do.”
“We pray that God will protect you and be with you as you look out for the public safety for each of us,” she said. “Keep up the good work. We love our Tyler Fire Department. … The way that you care about our community, not just in your daily job but also in all the volunteer ways you work in our community.”
Fire Captain Morgan Herron announced recipients of several other awards.
In announcing the selection of Hunt as Firefighter of the Year, Herron praised Hunt for having “the integrity, motivation, enthusiasm and drive that it takes to be at the top of his game day in and day out, year in and year out.”
Hunt is “a good firefighter and has been since day one. He is the guy you can depend on when the going gets tough,” Herron said.
Hunt is “one of those rare individuals that naturally excels at his job,” Herron said. “He arrives to work every day with an attitude and an eagerness that is infectious to all those around him. He truly is the guy that dreamed of becoming a firefighter as a boy.”
His professionalism and pride is reflected in his actions every shift and he always is eager to share something relating to firefighting jobs that he just learned, Herron said.
“He is the first to help another firefighter in any way he can. … His consistency, dependability and thirst for improvement have garnered him the respect of all,” Herron said.
Certificates of Merit for customer service/staff support were awarded to: Russell Jowell, Chris Mahler, Devin Myers, Brandon Davis, Brent Hail, Terry Hawkins, Jeff Barnett, Stuart Weatherford, Jonathan Admire, Steven Wieczor, J.R. Wood, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Quilters Group, Jeff Hudgens and Tyler Morning Telegraph Reporter Kenneth Dean.
Exemplary service awards were presented to Matt Jenkins, Aaron Smith, Randy Davis, Jimmy Morgan, Chad Baker, Jason Wright, John Rains, Kelly Adkinson and Matt Hazel.
Individual awards included: the Traveling Trophy from Fire Department Annual Picnic, Station 8; Special Recognition Award, Tony Gumber; Staff Support Award, Lynda Cox; and Outstanding District Award, District 1 C-Shift, led by District Chief Les Schminkey.
Friend of the Department Awards were presented to Chris Simons, Ron Schwartz and Rick Rayford.
Legends Awards were presented to Don Nicholson, James Powell and Tom West.
The Leadership Award went to District Chief Terry Rozell.
The Phoenix Life Saving Award, presented to a civilian for heroic action, went to Chance Johnson for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Recognition was also given to several teams in the Tyler Firefighters Combat Challenge, including teams from the fire department, the city and the Tyler Morning Telegraph