Defying DangerPublished 4:54pm Sunday, June 8, 2014
HALIFAX – Neither Jonathan Martin nor Ed Porter Jr. feels like a hero.
But don’t tell that to Kenneth Miggins, or to the Halifax Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Martin, a member of the Conway Volunteer Fire Department, and Porter, Chief of the Gaston Volunteer Fire Department, were each on the receiving end of the Medal for Heroism presented recently by the Halifax Resolves Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
The award was for their heroic actions on March 6 where the two firefighters entered a burning home near Pendleton and rescued Miggins from certain death.
Martin and Porter both stressed that it’s volunteerism, not recognition, which fuels their passion.
“I didn’t become a volunteer for the recognition…to receive awards. I became a volunteer because I love my community and will do anything I can to help the people of Conway and the surrounding areas,” said Martin.
“It was an honor to receive that very high honor, but you don’t become a fireman to become a hero,” stressed Porter. “You don’t become a fireman for a pat on the back. You become a fireman to protect and serve your community and that’s all I was doing on March 6.”
Both men were appreciative of the fact that volunteerism is still alive and well.
“This was a nice honor to receive, but honors are the last thing on your mind when you’re rushing out to answer a fire call,” Martin remarked. “I appreciate and am very much humbled that they chose to recognize Ed and myself for what we’re trained to do. If we had to do it all over again tomorrow (rush into a burning home to save a life), neither one of us would hesitate.”
Porter said the victim was very close to death by the time he and Martin discovered his whereabouts inside the burning home.
“The EMS crew (at the scene) said he would have died if we had not found him when we did,” Porter said. “His lungs were full of soot. But you don’t think about being a hero, you think about what’s in front of you to do and in this case it was getting this man out of that burning home.”
Porter, a 27-year volunteer firefighter (20 as Chief of the Gaston department) added that it’s situations such as the one on March 6 that firemen spend hours and hours in training.
“You prepare for the worst case scenarios,” he stated. “Your training takes over in those cases and you carry out that training by the book. That’s what Jonathan and I and the rest of the firemen on the scene did that day, play it by the book.”
In an interview shortly after the March 6 fire, Martin stressed that all of the emergency responders on the scene that day were responsible for saving a life.
“It was a team effort….starting with Joe Flythe, the driver of our engine truck, getting us to the fire scene safely; to Bruce (Davis, also a CVFD member) and Josh (Britt, a member of the Severn Volunteer Fire Dept.) on the hose line; to Chief Porter; to the Northampton County EMS crew that was ready to revive the victim….everyone did their job,” he said.
When the Conway volunteers were alerted to the structure fire at 237 Edwards Town Street in Pendleton, Martin and his fellow firemen were at the station, engaged in ladder training. Meanwhile, Porter was at the Severn Volunteer Fire Department where he was leading an air pack training session. Both departments were summoned to the fire and arrived to see heavy smoke billowing from the residence.
“We could barely see our hands in front of our faces, that’s how heavy the smoke was in the house,” Martin recalled. “You just feel your way through the smoke.
“We were searching in one of the bedrooms and I made my way towards a bathroom located off that bedroom….that’s where we found the victim and Ed and I were able to get him outside,” Martin added.
In addition to the Medal for Heroism, Martin was also honored by the American Red Cross with the prestigious “Golden Helmet Award” during a brief ceremony on March 11 at the CVFD station.
According to Geoffrey Pittard, president of the Halifax Resolves Chapter, the Medal for Heroism is presented in recognition of outstanding bravery and self-sacrifice in the face of imminent danger, i.e., acts which involve great personal courage and risk to the recipient.
“These are the first two heroism medals presented since I became president of our chapter back in January,” said Pittard. “We are happy to recognize Ed and Jonathan for the actions they took to save a man’s life.”
Pittard said he completely understood why neither Martin nor Porter considered themselves as heroes.
“I’m a volunteer fireman as well and I’ve never felt like a hero when carrying out those duties to serve your community,” he noted. “You answer the call and react to the situation you’re faced with. But, honestly, your actions at the scene of a fire or traffic accident often does require bravery and courage….you just never stop and think about it at that precise moment.”
The National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution was organized on April 30, 1889 – the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of George Washington as the nation’s first President. The Society was conceived as a fraternal and civic society composed of lineal descendants of the men who wintered at Valley Forge, signed the Declaration of Independence, fought in the battles of the American Revolution, served in the Continental Congress, or otherwise supported the cause of American Independence. The National Society was chartered by an Act of the United States Congress on June 9, 1906, which authorized the granting of charters to societies of the various states and territories and authorized the state societies to charter chapters within their borders.