Two De Pere, Wis. firefighters were recognized on Tuesday for going “Beyond the Call” for their roles in two separate fires in 2019.
Lt. Thomas Hendricks and Firefighter William Tews listened attentively as the people who nominated them for the award thanked them publicly for their genuine caring and on-going support during and after their fires.
Ilde Nielson owned OGAN Restaurant, one of several businesses and apartments destroyed last April by the largest fire in De Pere’s history. Nielson said she nominated the firefighters because of their dedicated support and determination to help her during the most trying time of her life.
“I see your heart, Tom. I see your heart, Bill. And I am so grateful to you forever,” she said.
Gregg and Denise Stodola also nominated Hendricks and Tews for the award, because of the genuine compassion they showed the Stodolas after their house fire.
Just five months removed from the experience, Gregg, along with many attending the awards ceremony, were brought to tears by his telling of how the firefighters tried to save the couple’s two dogs. Sadly, they could save only one, now nicknamed Houdini. Once the fire was out, they retrieved the other’s body, wrapped him in a blanket, and laid him out so the family could say a proper goodbye to their Teddy.
In all, the evening was a celebration of humanity, and a reminder of the lengths public safety officials go to for the people in their community. All are truly deserving of our recognition and appreciation.
This annual event is put on by 10 of De Pere’s civic organizations, with 2020 marking the fifth such ceremony. The names of all honorees will be added to the city’s perpetual plaque.