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Wood County man, 92, receives firefighter award

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Gretchen Richards-Meunier The Sons of the American Revolution “Fireman of the Year” award went to Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Howard Nicholas on Monday evening. Nicholas, right, receives the certificate for his award from Sons of the American Revolution President Ted Cox, left, in a ceremony attended by family and friends at the Williamstown Fire Department.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Gretchen Richards-Meunier
The Sons of the American Revolution “Fireman of the Year” award went to Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Howard Nicholas on Monday evening. Nicholas, right, receives the certificate for his award from Sons of the American Revolution President Ted Cox, left, in a ceremony attended by family and friends at the Williamstown Fire Department.

WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — Williamstown Volunteer Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Howard Nicholas was awarded the 2015 Sons of the American Revolution “Fireman of the Year” award on Monday evening.

Nicholas, 92, is the oldest active firefighter in West Virginia and believed to be the oldest active firefighter in the United States, said Deputy Chief Jerry Townsend with the Williamstown VFD on Monday evening.

Nicholas has been actively serving with the Williamstown VFD since 1958, and this year marks 57 continued years of service to the department, Townsend said.

The Sons of the American Revolution surprised Nicholas with an awards ceremony on Monday evening, which was interrupted by an emergency call for the Williamstown VFD.

“It’s a really big honor,” Nicholas said after the ceremony.

Despite attempts to keep the award a secret, Nicholas said he was suspicious that something was going to happen during the meeting.

Serving with Nicholas has been an honor, said 29-year Williamstown VFD veteran and current chief J.L. Dean.

“It’s great to know you already have someone that you can ask questions to, and he has the answers,” Dean said. “He’s been dedicated over the years, not just to us but in World War II as well.”

Nicholas served in World War II at the Battle of Normandy and was present in the Philippine Islands, Townsend said.

Closer to home, Nicholas served the Williamstown VFD as a lieutenant, captain and assistant chief; in the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association for more than 40 years; helped organized the Wood County Firefighters Association, and helped establish the Wood County 911 Central Dispatch system, Townsend said.

While one of their own was being awarded for a lifetime of service, firefighters with the department rolled out to their duties.

“Calls always come in,” said Dean after the ceremony. “We expect it. It (the call) was somehow fitting.”

Nicholas is the third firefighter to receive the Sons of the American Revolution “Fireman of the Year” award, said Brent Sams, Sons of the American Revolution liaison and chapter historian.

Throughout the ceremony, Nicholas was presented a certificate by Sons of the American Revolution chapter president Ted Cox, a medal and ribbon by Jeff Cline, Sons of the American Revolution color guard commander, a copy of his personal genealogy by Sams, and a personal copy of a plaque by Dean.

A public copy of the plaque will be displayed in Firehouse Subs in Vienna throughout the year. Firehouse Subs sponsors the event with the Sons of the American Revolution, Sams said.

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