By LIBBY CLUETT
The Mineral Wells Volunteer Fire Department is making a new tradition by recognizing Firefighter’s Memorial Day this Sunday, which coincides with the 2013 National Fallen Firefighter Memorial Weekend.
At 2 p.m. today, the MWVFD will have a short service at the Steve Perdue Training Center and will break up into companies and place flags at 100 graves of retired and fallen firefighters and some department mascots who have died.
One is the grave of Robin Allen, whom they laid to rest just over one week ago.
The late Mineral Wells Fire Chief died suddenly at her home on the evening of Sept. 20 and was buried Sept. 27. Local firefighters, aided by honor guards from Metroplex departments, kept a 24-7 vigil over her body during the week.
Last Sunday MWVFD Capt. Jerry VanNatta placed a memorial flag at her grave in the Brad Cemetery.
Also, this year MWVFD will place flags on the graves of two retired members who passed away: Jerry Kidwell, who worked at Fort Wolters when it was active, and was a volunteer for MWVFD and John Turpin, a retired fireman and former Palo Pinto County Sheriff, according to VanNatta. He added that Allen started out as a MWVFD volunteer.
Mineral Wells crews will place memorial flags on graves at Woodland Park Cemetery, Elmwood Cemetery and Staggs Prairie Cemetery on Sunday.
Each year VanNatta said they place memorial flags on over 100 graves, some of which are in outlying areas. On Saturday morning, he said two firefighters placed flags on MWVFD graves at surrounding cemeteries.
In addition to retired and former firefighters, in over 100 years of firefighting two MWVFD members died while in the line of duty fighting fires, according to VanNatta. This includes Tommy Parker, who died of a heart attack at a fire in 1992 and whose name is on the National Fallen Firefighter’s Memorial in Emmitsburg, M D. He said another fallen MWVFD member was J.B. Courtney, who died in 1955.
Also on Sunday, the station flag will be lowered to half staff.