Red Oak volunteer fireman receives safety award at Fort Novosel

Published 9:15 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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John Major Parker of the Red Oak community recently received a certificate of achievement from the Directorate of Public Safety at Fort Novosel in Dale County, Alabama last week.

Parker’s work supervisor informed him on Monday, July 1, that he needed to report to Cairns Army Airfield Fire Department in Daleville immediately. He was not given any additional information or reason why his presence was necessary.

“Receiving this award humbled me because I’m just a very tiny portion of the training they receive. I gave a class a 15-minute presentation on the TH-1 Huey helicopter for the United States Air Force,” Parker said. “Being a volunteer firefighter myself, I understand training is a very important part of the mission. Those guys deserve way more than me because they put their life on the line for everyone every day at the airfield. While I’m proud to be recognized for doing this with them for over a decade, humbled is the first word that comes to mind.”

As a child, Parker suffered a burn injury when he was only 6 months old and underwent nearly 38 plastic surgeries.

“I want to give back or try to keep anyone from going through the pain and surgeries I had to endure. I think community work is important in many ways, and God has been good to me through the years. I have health problems as a disabled veteran, but as long as God will let me work with the fire department and help veterans and other first responders in Alabama, I’m going to do so,” he said.

He has been a firefighter with the Red Oak Volunteer Fire Department for five years.

“Having this opportunity to serve as a volunteer firefighter for my community is a blessing from above. By being recognized with this award, I hope for people to see they can make a positive difference no matter how little things are when helping others. I hope I can continue helping them for another decade because they truly are heroes in many ways,” Parker said.

Parker paid tribute to his peers for their assistance in helping him receive this honor.

“I would like to thank the firefighters of Cairns Army Airfield and the whole crew for their recommendation of the award. To the director of public safety and fire installation chief at Fort Novosel, I appreciate you both. I would also like to extend a special thank you to Florala Fire Chief Anthony Jones for coming from Hanchey Field to say good things, present a portion of the awards, and speak kind words to me personally,” he said.

He added that he was grateful to all those around him from his loved ones to fellow firemen.

“It means the world to have people who support me and will call me to help them with an issue. Being a firefighter is a brotherhood like no other and is similar to serving in the military. You have to lift each other up and support each other. My family sees me wear many hats in life, and I do it to stay busy because it helps me deal with my PTSD. My family and friends all support me and love me.”

Parker offered heartfelt advice to both the community and the general public.

“We all have precious time on this earth. Love God, love your family, and love each other because tomorrow is not promised. Help where you can and whom you can. Your small act of kindness can make or break someone who may be thinking of suicide or dealing with too much stress,” he said.

Fort Novosel Installation Fire Chief and Directorate of Public Safety Jeremy Evett and Provost Marshal/Director of Public Safety John T. Burch presented Parker with his certificate of achievement.

The certificate reads:

“Let it be known that Mr. Parker has played a valuable role in training and better preparing both new firefighters assigned to Fort Novosel, and aspiring Lead Firefighters who are preparing themselves to lead others. Mr. Parker has, on numerous occasions, facilitated emergency shutdown and aircraft familiarization training for these personnel on the TH-1 Huey. His knowledge, character, and assistance have better prepared personnel for emergencies they may face. We present this award as a small token of our gratitude and appreciation for the hard work that he has done.”

Major and his wife Donna will celebrate their ninth anniversary on Wednesday, July 17. They are the parents of four sons: Lane Hunt, Griffin Hunt, Ryan Parker, and Braxton Hunt.