Memorial for firefighters will mark first anniversary

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
The city will conduct a memorial service Saturday morning on the one-year anniversary of the Salisbury Millwork Co. fire in which firefighters Vic Isler and Justin Monroe died.
The public is invited to attend.
Fire, rescue, emergency and law enforcement personnel will gather at the Salisbury-Rowan Firefighters’ Memorial, located at the southern end of Chestnut Hill Cemetery, 1400 S. Main St.
The service will begin at 8:45 a.m., and people who wish to attend are being asked to arrive at the memorial by 8:30 a.m.
An area will be provided for people in wheelchairs.
At a private luncheon later at Salisbury Fire Station No. 1, officials will present The Order of the Long Leaf Pine to the families of Isler and Monroe.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest state civilian honor presented through the Governor’s Office.
In addition, individual oil portraits of Isler and Monroe by artist Annette Hall will be unveiled. The portraits will remain at Station No. 1.
Engraved bronze plaques, featuring the names, likenesses and service records of the three city of Salisbury firefighters who have died in the line of duty, also will be revealed.
The memorial plaques will be on permanent display in the front foyer of Station No. 1. In addition to the plaques of Isler and Monroe, the third plaque will memorialize Joe Jenkins, a Salisbury firefighter who perished in the line of duty in 1971.
At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, the Miller’s Ferry Fire Station at 2650 Long Ferry Road will host another service.
The public ceremony will include the dedication of a newly installed informational sign, located at the front of the fire station.
The 6- by 10-foot brick sign features digital display and will be dedicated in the memory of Monroe, who also was a volunteer firefighter for the department.
Miller’s Ferry Fire Chief Bobby Fox said funds for the sign came from throughout the community.
At the morning memorial service in Salisbury, Fire Chief Bob Parnell will offer a welcome, followed by a prayer from Capt. Doug Stevens.
At 9:06 a.m, the time a mayday call went out for the fallen firemen, the gathering will observe a moment of silence.
Bagpiper Bobby Hunter will follow with a song, and Mayor Susan Kluttz will make some remarks.
The American flag will be lowered to half-staff. Capt. Mike Spry and Engineer Bobby Burleyson, serving as honor guards, will advance and lower the flag, which will remain at half-staff for the rest of the day.
Salisbury Fire Marshal Terry Smith will read the Fireman’s Prayer.
Salisbury Battalion Chief David Morris, Miller’s Ferry Fire Chief Bobby Fox and Spencer Fire Chief Jay Baker will perform the “Ringing of the Bell” service.
The fire bell will chime five times, in three distinct sets, signifying the “last return home.” The placement of wreaths will follow with Capt. Rick Fleming escorting the Monroe family and Capt. Tim Hurlocker escorting the Isler family.
The service will conclude with a bagpiper’s rendition of “Amazing Grace,” closing remarks by Parnell, and the recitation of The Lord’s Prayer.
“On behalf of the Salisbury City Council,” Kluttz said in advance of the service. “I would like to share that Firefighter Victor Isler and Firefighter Justin Monroe are truly heroes. The memory of their sincere dedication, love and devotion for the city of Salisbury will remain in our hearts forever.
“As a community, we are eternally saddened by their loss, and we uplift their memory each and every day. Thank you to the multitude of citizens, fire departments, emergency service providers, businesses and government entities that came to our rescue and embraced us during our darkest of hours. Your loyalty, prayers and support continue to sustain us and provide us with hope for tomorrow.”
Parnell added, “The events on the morning of March 7, 2008, have forever changed our lives.
“Our dear brothers, Firefighter Victor Isler and Firefighter Justin Monroe, paid the ultimate sacrifice through their faithful service and loyalty. Their relentless valor offers a mere glimpse to the magnificent men that they truly were. Their memories will remain in our hearts always.”
Parnell said all firefighters and emergency personnel in Rowan County “are truly heroes.”
“Each one has suffered and continues to deal with this loss in his or her own way. To each and every individual who has assisted us during our time of need and to those who continue to support us through your kind acts, thoughts and prayers, we are vastly appreciative and humbled.
“Your love and compassion are the very strength that allows us to continue each day in the service that our fallen brothers loved so well.”
Citizens are being advised that during the memorial service, a portion of South Main Street will be blocked to traffic from 8-10 a.m.
The private luncheon at Fire Station No. 1 will begin at 11:30 a.m.
The closed luncheon will include the Isler and Monroe families, Salisbury firefighters and their families and local dignitaries.
For more information regarding services planned for Saturday, contact the Salisbury Fire Department at 704-638-5351.