The Augusta area’s police and firefighters gathered Sunday to remember those who died in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, and those who lost their lives in the line of duty in the Augusta area in the last year.
Aiken Department of Public Safety Director Charles Barranco said the service at Lakeside Baptist Church was meant to honor Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy J.D. Paugh, Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra Rogers and Aiken Master of Public Safety Scott Richardson, “not only for how they died, but how they lived.”
Family members and friends of the slain officers were in the front row during the service. Rogers’ partner, Frances Williams, and Richardson’s wife, Amelyn Sorell, shed tears and held hands while Lakeside’s pastor, Rev. Tad Marshall, spoke about their loved ones.
“When you become part of the public safety family, when they hurt, you hurt,” said Marshall, who is also the chaplain for ADPS. “You may think you’re overlooked or under-thanked, but not here.”
In its fifth year, the Lakeside Baptist Church’s 911 Honor Service was also about appreciating the local men and women in public safety, including police, fire, EMS and others.
Marshall asked for representatives from each facet of public safety in the packed church to come to the stage. The line wrapped around the front of the platform and included nearly all of the local public safety departments and a retired New York firefighter who was at Ground Zero.
“Ever since 9/11, one of the things I’ve told the families of the people we lost that day is I will never let them be forgotten,” said retired FDNY firefighter Rick Doran. “Some of these kids weren’t even born yet. The least I can do is tell them what happened.”
Church member and Savannah River Site firefighter Chris Alverson spoke about the importance of family and friends in the lives of public safety personnel. That support gives the officers courage, he said.
He also talked about three veteran Augusta-Richmond County firefighters who died in the last year: Capt. Tommy Cox, Sgt. Boise Davis and retired Chief Jack Tudor.
Alverson was emotional after he asked 9-year-old Justin Key to recite a prayer. The boy’s voice and the message about sacrifice brought tears to many.
During his sermon, Marshall thanked people like doctors and nurses, who also work in public safety. The pastor lost his wife a few months ago, and said Augusta is lucky to have so many good people and resources.
“Thank you for what you do,” he said. “You show your professionalism by responding and acting. You do what is necessary, and we are extremely thankful.”