COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — On Friday, the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs and Georgia State Firefighters Association held their 2022 Memorial Service for deceased firefighters at the Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center. In attendance were fire department workers and their families. Chaplain Bruce King of the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs led the invocation and benediction. Chaplain Ronnie Cowart of the Georgia State Firefighter’s Association gave a speech and a prayer. A major theme in his speech was unity.

“Unity today is the greatest thing we have – supporting and strengthening one another,” he said. “You see, I always thought that man, the chief’s at the top, right?”

Cowart said a fire chief isn’t more important than his or her team, and, in fact, is their greatest supporter. He said rookie firefighters are empowered by unity with their teams to succeed.

Cowart said no amount of right actions could wipe out a wrong action.

“You can’t wipe those things away on your own,” he said. “We have to go to someone that can. That’s the same as when I’m weak and afflicted in the department, I can’t do things on my own, I have to come to you for help because I can’t do it. I have to come to you. I have to make sure that we have everything, that I have everything in the right order and that you know that look, I messed up.”

He said that the memorial service would honor “real” people rather than “perfect” people.

“God is not calling you to be perfect,” he said. “He’ll do that part. He’s calling you to be real. And if you’ll be real, and you’ll have a little bit of humility about it and you do the right things, he will make you successful the same way as we should treat one another.”

Cowart said people have to lean on each other to “succeed and grow.” He said the greatest things people do are those that help people around them be successful.

“I’m going to tell you,” he said. “Sometimes I’m not going to like you, and sometimes, you’re not going to like me. But my favorite scripture, one of my favorite scriptures is Proverbs 27 and 17. It says, ‘Iron sharpens iron. So shall a man sharpen the countenance of his friend.’ It doesn’t mean we’ll always agree, but it means that we will always strive to be better together. So today, let’s celebrate those that did the exact same thing.”

The names of deceased firefighters were displayed in a slide show and said aloud. Each time a firefighter was named, a member of the Columbus Fire Department Honor Guard carried a candle to the front of the room and set it down on a table.

Each time a firefighter’s name was called, a member of the Columbus Fire Department Honor Guard brought a candle to the front of the room and set it down on a table.

The following firefighters were named:

  • Eddie Farmer of Athens-Clarke County Fire Rescue
  • Benny C. Reliford Sr. of Pearson, Willacoochee, Atkinson Fire Service
  • Dwayne Morgan of the Baldwin County Fire Department
  • Timothy Watson, who died in the line of duty, of the Barrow County Fire Department
  • Johnny “JP” Payne of the Bartow County Fire Department
  • Derrick “Fireball” Evans of the Bartow County Fire Department
  • Thomas Kerr, who died in the line of duty, of the Brooks County Fire Department
  • Michael Keith Vidrine of the Brunswick Fire Department
  • Darrol Brazil, who died in the line of duty, of the Bulloch County Fire Department
  • Justin Robinson, who died in the line of duty, of the Carroll County Fire Department
  • Tommy Hopson, who died in the line of duty, of the Carroll County Fire Department
  • Lt. Oscar Huskins of the Cartersville Fire Department
  • Capt. Truman McCollum of the Cartersville Fire Department
  • Capt. Roger Sweat of the Cartersville Fire Department
  • Sgt. Paul “Tadpole” Wilson of the Cartersville Fire Department
  • Asst. Chief Roland Jackson of the Cedartown Fire Department
  • Royce McNeese, who died in the line of duty, of the Claxton Fire Department
  • Lt. Collin Veasley of Clayton County Fire & Emergency Services
  • Lt. Larry Lamar Jordan of the Cobb County Fire Department
  • Ryan Taylor, who died in the line of duty, of City of Decatur Fire Rescue
  • John Gaddy, who died in the line of duty, of Forest Park Fire & Emergency Services
  • Kevin Ray Wallace of the Forsyth County Fire Department
  • James R. McIntyre of the Gainesville Fire Department
  • Stanley Brown of the Gainesville Fire Department
  • Mike Copeland of the Gainesville Fire Department
  • Robert Standridge of the Gainesville Fire Department
  • Mark Ellison, who died in the line of duty, of the Georgia Forestry Commission
  • Carson Jones, who died in the line of duty, of the Georgia Forestry Commission
  • Stephen Richards, who died in the line of duty, of the Georgia Forestry Commission
  • Robert Edward Lee of the Grady County Fire Department
  • Mike Bachelor of Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services
  • Norma Robinson of Gwinnett Fire and Emergency Services
  • Shaun Stringer, who died in the line of duty, of the Hall County Fire Department
  • James Guiler of the Heard County Fire Department
  • Kevin Cash of the Jonesboro Fire Department
  • Walter Joe Trussell Sr. of Montezuma Fire and Emergency Services
  • Mike “Pops” Neal of the City of Morrow Fire Department
  • Michael McFadden, who died in the line of duty, of the Savannah Fire Department
  • Christopher Clifton, who died in the line of duty, of the Screven County Fire Department
  • Efren Medina, who died in the line of duty, of the St. Mary’s Fire Department
  • Christopher Applebee of the Statesboro Fire Department
  • Craig Calvin Underwood of the Union City Fire Department
  • John S. Causey of the Vienna Fire Department
  • Wendell Dennis of the Warner Robins Fire Department
  • Dale Mullis of the Warner Robins Fire Department
  • Ernest Wood of the Warner Robins Fire Department
  • Tommy Hunter of the Warner Robins Fire Department
  • Jeffery Stewart of the Warner Robins Fire Department