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‘Never forget’

NFD honors fallen during 9/11 service

For an ever-growing portion of the population, Sept. 11, 2001 is a topic they learned about in school. For the majority of Americans, it is a day that is seared into the memory, much like Pearl Harbor Day or the day JFK was shot.

“Never forget” was the message from Newton Fire Chief Jarrod Wellik at the 9/11 Memorial Service held Monday at the Newton Fire Station. More than 100 people gathered to honor the more than 3,000 people who lost their lives as a result of the terror attack and the countless men and women who heroically worked in the minutes, hours and days to follow to save, locate and then memorialize those involved.

“It’s hard to believe it has been 16 years,” Wellik said. “I couldn’t help reflect on the key phrase after that day, never forget. Though many years have past, images of Sept. 11, 2001 still stop us cold. The events of 9/11 caused America to promise we would never forget.”

The service started with presentation of colors by the Newton Fire and Jasper County Sheriff’s Honor Guard. In uniform, the group brought forward both the American flag and the flag of Iowa to stand before the crowd.

A tradition more than a century old, the Ringing of the 4 — 5’s is a ceremony performed by fire departments across the county to honor fallen comrades. NFD Training Officer Rex Heisdorffer rang the bell to remember the 343 men and women firefighters who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the line of service.

“The fire service is rich with ceremony, custom and tradition,” Heisdorffer said. “Our custom of rendering final honors has its origins in fire department of the city of New York where many years ago, long before the advent of radios and pagers, fire alarms and daily announcements were dispatched from central headquarters to outlying fire houses by a system of bell commands and telegraph.”

Heisdorffer said each alarm or announcement would have its own number and series of bell  strikes. When a firefighter died in a line of duty, headquarters would transmit five bells strikes repeated in four series, with a slight pause between each series, followed by the announcement. The tradition dates back as long ago as 1865, to inform the department of the death of Abraham Lincoln, Heisdorffer said. 

Also participating in the service were the bagpipe duo of Ron Husted and Theresa Taylor performing “Minstrel Boy,” “Amazing Grace” and “Dawning of the Day.” 

The service was also used as a time to honor firefighters and emergency medical service providers in the Newton department for achievements in the past year. To begin the awards, Blaine Lefler, George Montgomery, Lee Clanton and Todd Van Manen were honored as individuals who assisted in a childbirth in a non-hospital setting. 

Chief Wellik earned the Executive Fire Officer designation from the National Fire Academy and Steve Ashing, Lefler and Mike Browning were recognized as members of the Honor Guard. Several individuals were also recognized for their years of service including Ashing and Browning at 10 years and Mike Sander with 25 at the department.

A new award, the Firefighter/EMS Provider of the Year was awarded to an officers or provider that has performed above and bound the normal responsibility of the position, displayed a positive attitude, work ethic and dependability to fellow co-workers and the public they have served. Lee Clanton was the first recipient of the award for the work he has been doing to update photographs in the department and his positive attitude even in the face of adversity.

“(Clanton) has been a wonderful employee to have,” Wellik said. “When I saw this come across my desk, I thought, what a wonderful recognition for a person that really has gone above and beyond what is expected of him on a daily basis.”

The service concluded with a reception of cake and punch at the department along with a time of fellowship for those in attendance.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or

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