UNSUNG HEROES: First Responders Day set for SaturdayPublished 8:43pm Thursday, June 26, 2014
Army. Navy. Air Force. Marines — the inaugural First Responders Appreciation Day isn’t limited to just the branches of the U.S. military. Firefighters, EMTs, FBI representatives, law enforcement personnel and many more will be on hand to show off vehicles and equipment at Warren Field Airport on Saturday.
The highlight of the event will be at noon, when U.S. Marine Corps pilots will land a U.S. Marine Corps V-22 Osprey, and visitors can get an inside look at the aircraft capable of high-speed, high-altitude flight, as well as hovering like a helicopter.
“It’s the first time the Osprey has ever been approved for an event like this,” said Alvin Powell, head of Beaufort County’s Police Activities League and organizer of the event.
Powell has made a point of inclusion for Saturday’s festivities — it’s free and open to anyone with an interest. There’s even free transportation from the Washington Boys & Girls Club on North Bridge Street. Every law enforcement agency in the county, as well as North Carolina State Highway Patrol, will be participating in an event that will be officially dedicated to Alex Thalmann, the Washington native and New Bern Police officer who lost his life in the line of duty earlier this year.
For Powell, the idea for First Responders Appreciation Day came from a desire to promote the science and technology theme of PAL, as well as from the events surrounding Thalmann’s death.
“I’ve seen too many first responders — law enforcement and EMS — die in the line of duty for someone they don’t know. There’s a memorial service and everyone says nice things about them. I thought it would be a great idea for our community to show appreciation for our unsung heroes at an event where they could actually hear them,” Powell said.
The community has responded, Powell said. The Metro hangar at the airport will be home of many displays: from ballistic materials made by DSM in neighboring Greenville to displays about the state of the art aviation program and flight school at Elizabeth City State University, in addition to the equipment used daily by first responders and the military.
“The public can see some of the exotic and sophisticated equipment that they use,” Powell said.
Powell refers to Saturday as a Family Day, but the First Responders Day is also marketing Washington, and its airport. A national notice has been sent out through pilots’ channels that Warren Field is hosting a “fly-in,” in addition to First Responders Day. Pilots from across the U.S. have been invited to fly in and spend the day, an invitation that will showcase the airport and, perhaps, plant the seeds for its growth, Powell said.
“That’s never been done here,” Powell said, adding that he has three personal friends who are flying in from Raleigh on Saturday.
It will be a busy day at Warren Field, as Skydive Little Washington will be taking first-time skydivers up for tandem skydives, visitors will be allowed to explore the gondola of a hot air balloon, slides and games will be available for children’s entertainment and for adults, classic cars — and motorcycles — will be on display. The classic car competition, hosted by Down East Rods & Classics, will be judged by first responders.
The public is invited First Responders Appreciation Day: the event and parking are free. Gates will open at 11 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. A dedication ceremony for Alex Thalmann will be held at 1 p.m. Warren Field is located at 200 Airport Road, Washington, next to the Susiegray McConnell sports complex.