Saturday, July 19, 2008

President Thanks Suisun City Hero


Few people are more self-effacing than firefighters who all too often do what many of us think we'd never be able to do to help someone else then shy away from special honors meant to say "thank you."

The Suisun City Council last month honored Hall and the other volunteer firefighters on his crew for their efforts to save the life of a 1-year-old girl who nearly drown in her family's wading pool.

But Gary Hall Jr. - an Air Force Master Sergeant and volunteer driver-operator for the Suisun City Fire Department - couldn't escape the Commander in Chief when he came through Travis Air Force Base last week.

Hall was there when President Bush came off Air Force One and was presented the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, for which he was nominated by his Air Force unit. 

Here's some of what Daily Republic reporter Ian Thompson wrote about the encounter:
FAIRFIELD - President Bush has recognized a Travis Air Force Base master sergeant for his work as a volunteer firefighter in Suisun City.

Master Sgt. Gary Hall met with Bush on the Travis flightline Thursday afternoon when the president stopped at Travis on his way to a fundraiser in Napa.

Bush presented Hall with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Hall was nominated for the award by members of his Air Force unit.

'It is an honor to get to salute the commander in chief,' Hall said Friday. 'It is also an honor to receive an honor for what I enjoy doing.'

When not on military duty, Hall spends three nights a week serving as a volunteer driver-operator with the Suisun City Fire Department.

'A lot of the guys in Suisun City volunteer as much as I do and I am in no way unique,' Hall said. 'The rest of the guys work as hard as I do. It is just fortunate that the military has a process to recognize people for their community involvement.'

For more of the Daily Republic's report, visit We'd like to thank the DR for use of the photo above, as well.
The Napa Valley Register also carried an article by Editor Bill Kisliuk on Hall's honor:
Few Napans got to see President George W. Bush on Thursday. Gary Hall shook his hand.

Hall, 43, a Vintage High School graduate, Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force and volunteer with the Suisun Fire Department, had the honor of being present when Air Force One landed at Travis Air Force Base Thursday afternoon.

Hall was tapped for the special occasion both for his work as an in-flight refuel operator for the 6th Air Refueling Squadron and for some recent heroics with Suisun’s volunteer fire department.

On June 1, Hall helped save the life of a toddler found floating in a residential pool, and on Fathers Day helped with the emergency delivery of a baby, even cutting the umbilical cord for the mother.
Then came Thursday.

The president, Hall said, “got off the aircraft. He greeted some VIPs on the base — the base commander, wing commander and some other people ... He came over and I got to salute my commander-in-chief, which very few people get to do.”
Hall told the president, “Welcome to California.”

The president, he said, thanked Hall for his service to the country, then he moved.

“He had other things to do,” said Hall, who noted the president also greeted a woman — whom Hall did not know — who like Hall appeared to have been chosen because of her community service.

Hall grew up in Napa and graduated from Vintage High School. He was a city of Napa Fire Explorer as a teen, and was a reserve firefighter for the city of Napa before entering the Air Force in 1986.

He, his wife Peggy and daughter Nicole live in Suisun. He plans to retire from the service in February.

So, what was it like to meet the president?

“It was cool,” said Hall. “Like I said, as a member of the military, he’s my commander in chief. Not many people in the military get to be personally recognized. It’s special I got to do it.”

Hall appreciated the honor, but insisted others are just as deserving. Acknowledging the other volunteers in the Suisun Fire Department, he said, “There are an awful lot of people who do the same thing I do.”
Suisun City is very proud of Gary and all of the volunteers who selflessly staff the City's fire department.  All of our residents owe you more thanks than could ever be adequately expressed.

1 comment:

Jeramy Sossaman said...

way to go Gary!