All too often, newspapers are guilty of bringing bad news, from drug arrests to auto accidents and crimes anywhere in between, the dirty laundry tends to be the reputation of the media, although that is never the intention, those things must also be reported with the tales of good citizens and popular historic features. It is a breath of fresh air for a journalist to get a story, that unlike the crime stories, is a "feel good" story about people who live, work and serve in this wonderful community.
During the early morning hours of Feb. 24, when everyone was fast asleep in their cozy homes and the temperatures were plummeting to the low teens, two Williford volunteer firemen left their families and the safety of their homes to go out in the frigid night air and help someone in need.
Williford Fire Chief Jim Russell and volunteer firemen Chris Baskin responded to a call from Sharp County Central Dispatch about a stranded motorist a few miles out of Hardy. Unbeknownst to the two men, the man who was stranded in his car with his close friend had ran out of gas on their way back to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., after visiting family in Mississippi for the first time after returning from Iraq where he suffered injuries in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The gentleman, Sergeant Travis Pukett, who was in the United States Army, could not praise these two men enough. He called Areawide Media after his safe return to base and offered to pay to put an advertisement in the paper thanking the men for essentially saving the lives of him and his friend from the freezing temperatures. Of course, Areawide Media and the Villager Journal were very thankful for the opportunity to let the community know how proud we are of these men and the service they selflessly provide as volunteer firemen.
Pukett did not know the names of his saviors but was adamant that he wanted to pay them in some way for the selfless act. He said they would not take any money, not even for the gas they purchased for them. Pukett said the firemen drove to Hardy, filled the gas, returned them to the vehicle, then jumped their vehicle and made sure they were safely on their way. All of this occurred around 1:30 and 2 a.m.
Hardy Police Chief Ernie Rose said the call came through that night and was on his answering machine the next morning when he got to the office. Because he was off duty, the machine directed the caller to call 9-1-1. So, initially the stranded motorist thought the volunteer was from Hardy, but after further investigation and talking to Rose, it was discovered the men in question were actually from Williford. After a few calls and the wonderful help of Brandi Lane at Sharp County's Central Dispatch, the Villager Journal discovered the hero's names. Pukett said we should all be very proud to be from such a wonderful community with such selfless people and said he intends to make a donation to the fire department.
This type of kindness and is a true testament to the human spirit and is something that has been shown again and again in our area, which seems to have experienced more than it's fair share of situations in the last few years that call for kindness, volunteerism and helpfulness. We are very proud to call these two men hero's and are proud they are citizen's of our wonderful county.