On Monday, November 3rd, the South Carolina State Department of Transportation will formally rename a section of Savannah Highway the “Charleston 9 Memorial Highway”. While this is certainly an appropriate gesture on the part of the State, it brings to mind what we can do to perpetuate the memory of these heroes.
First, let me say that as we visit the fire stations and participate in various meetings and events with all of you, we have noticed how many new faces we see on a daily basis. There have been many firefighters join the department since June 18, 2007. Most of these personnel never had the opportunity to know any of the Charleston 9. Actually, I only knew Capt. Billy Hutchinson personally myself. Billy and I became friends many years ago when he was a firefighter on Capt. Phil Hawkins’ crew at Station 12. I was a young Assistant Chief at North Charleston District Fire Department back then and I drove across the North Bridge to Station 12 to have supper with them regularly. I was fortunate to enjoy Billy’s cooking and his friendship for many years and I have been able to share my memories of him with his family and many other people in the last sixteen months. I’m sure many of you also have a great deal of memories of Billy, Mike, Louis, Brad, Mark, Earl, Melvin, Brandon and Frenchie that would be of great interest to the folks that have joined your ranks in the last year. What a fitting tribute to these great men to have their stories told by the friends closest to them. Our Team has worked with you and the Charleston 9 families in the last sixteen months and we have been fortunate to get to know all of the Charleston 9 through your words and memories. Thank you for sharing with us and continue to honor these men each day with sharing your memories of them with our new firefighters and to others around us.
Stay safe my friends,