On September 25, 2004, the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 90th Anniversary of incorporation. In addition our Ladies Auxiliary also celebrated their 84th Anniversary as the “First Organized Ladies Auxiliary in the United States.”
The anniversary banquet was held at the Chesapeake Beach American Legion. Dedicating the ceremony to our charter members, the company, new members and old came out to honor the 90 years of tradition and service of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department.
In keeping with this theme, guests took chances for a replica leather fire bucket, looked at photo centerpieces documenting the company’s history, a company history, and met with other members they may not have already known. Members we given a commemorative pin that was modeled after the badge the first Captain wore when the department was organized. Originally, the Captain was the highest ranking member. This position is now the Fire Chief.
Ron J. Siarnicki, Past Chief of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department, current Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, emceed the program. Ron served as a career officer at Company 5 for a few years and has a special place in the department’s history. He also presented the department with copy of the book Firefighter, which includes the history of our Ladies Auxiliary.
Mayor Joyce Nixon also welcomed members and guests and praised them for the work that they do for our community. She presented a resolution from County Executive Jack B. Johnson in recognition of our 90th anniversary.
The purpose of the banquet, historically, was to install the new officers for the year. Officers were introduced and awards for the year were given.
The Ladies Auxiliary recognized its “Lady of the Year,” Ms. Peggy Eckhardt. Peggy was commended for her energy and enthusiasm. All of the ladies joined President, Mary Russell and were given roses and fire department charms. Keith Fullington was also presented with a gift for his work in helping the Auxiliary. The ladies presented Mary with a blanket as a token of appreciation for her leadership of the group. President Russell also presented awards to the Department Chief and President.
During the ceremony the following life membership and service awards were given out:
- Edward Hazel – 60 years of service
- Al Adams – 20 year Life Membership Badge
- Charles Baldi – 20 year Life Membership Badge
- Jim Crawford – 20 year Life Membership Badge
- Mike Souders – 20 year Life Membership Badge
- Kim Lee – 20 year Life Membership Badge
- Margie Byrd – 10 year Life Membership Card
- John Weaver – 10 year Life Membership Card
World War II impacted our department tremendously, 27 members were called into service, leaving the junior members and ladies auxiliary to take up the duties of the department. Those members, who went to war, including the three that were killed in action, were honored with a plaque that will be placed in the station after its renovation. There are three members of the department that remain with us today. Two of those surviving members, Ernie Moreland and Grafton Boswell, were at the banquet and were given a framed picture of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In more recent history, Dwayne Frost served his country in Afghanistan and Iraq. He returned home in April 2004. Dwayne was presented with a flag that was flown over the United States Capitol, which he guarded after 9/11. The flag was presented to the company at the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association Convention in September 2004. Dwayne accepted the flag and commemorative convention book. He also had a few awards of his own. He presented the department with a certificate for its support during his service to his country. He also presented a medal to Catherine McClelland for organizing cards and letters from school children. Dwayne noted that the notes and cards from the children were an inspiration and a comfort to their troops, who never knew what dangers they faced going out on the road. Dwayne also brought a special guest with him from the order of the Purple Heart who thanked the department for its support and talked of the struggles of the troops coming back from overseas.
Two community service awards were given out at the celebration. The members of the company that participated in the fire prevention and “Christmas In April” activities were commended for their service to the community. Two plaques listed the names of each participant and will be hung in the station after the renovation. Those members who participated were given shirts with the company seal and the name of the project that they worked on. Mayor Joyce Nixon was also honored for her service to the community through our door-to-door fire prevention campaign. The following members were part of those efforts:
||Christmas In April
All guests received a commemorative diamond plate coffee mug to remember the occasion. Guests were encouraged to stay and enjoy dancing and cake.