'Grim Reapers' join California Rural Fire at annual dinner

At the California Rural Fire Protection District annual dinner, Ed Bleich is commented for 35 years as a fire fighter by Fire Chief Steve Walters. Bleich served as chief for 22 years.

At the California Rural Fire Protection District annual dinner, Ed Bleich is commented for 35 years as a fire fighter by Fire Chief Steve Walters. Bleich served as chief for 22 years. Photo by David Wilson.

Several members of the "Grim Reapers," otherwise known as the 13th Bomb Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, joined the California Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD) Saturday, Feb. 19, at its annual meeting. The B2 Bomber squadron commander, Lt. Col. Mark "Zulu" Pye, presented a plaque in the shape of a B2 Bomber noting the efforts of CRFPD and the bomber squadron in working together for the community. In his comments, the squadron commander mentioned the common goal of protection of the community by both the fire fighters and Air Force personnel, although the "fires" they fight are different in nature as well as scope. A major goal both entities have is prevention.

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Joe Scallorns, member of the Base Community Council (BCC) of Whiteman AFB speaks to the California Rural volunteer fire fighters about the March 8 BCC lunch. Gov. Nixon will speak.

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Lt. Col. Mark Pye, commander of the 13th B2 Bomber Squadron, Whiteman Air Force Base, presents a plaque to the California Rural Fire Protection District at the annual dinner meeting, Saturday, Feb. 19.

Other Air Force personnel present included Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Sloan Pye, wife of the commander, Capt. James Hayes, Tech. Sgt. (E-6) Melane Simmons and Flight Lt. Adam Curd, an exchange officer from the Royal Air Force, United Kingdom. Retired Master Sgt. Buck Buckingham and wife Chris also attended.

Joe Scallorns, representing the Base Community Council (BCC), issued an invitation to visit the Whiteman BCC lunch on March 8, when California will be one of the two communities honored. The main speaker at the day long event is Gov. Jay Nixon. Tours are also available. Those who attend the lunch must be approved ahead of time. For information on the event call Scallorns at 573-796-2981 or 573-659-1195.

Several fire fighters were recognized for their long service by Fire Chief Steven Walters. Ed Bleich was honored for 35 years of service, 22 of which he served as chief.

David Opel was recognized for 20 years. Mark Inglish received a certificate for 10 years of service. Chris Clifford and Darrel Hoellering were not present for their 10 year recognition.

Andrea Hughes, fire fighter and first responder, was presented a certificate for five years of service. Brandon Hickman and Chris Gerloff, also five year fire fighters, were not present.

Board President David Strobel thanked everyone for serving the community as volunteer fire fighters and first responders.

For more stories and photos check out issues of the California Democrat.

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