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Md. county memorial honors fallen fire, EMS personnel

Funds for the nearly $4,000 memorial stone, feauturing the Fireman’s and EMT prayers, came through donations


By Heather B. Wolford
Cumberland Times News

CUMBERLAND, Md. — William Rice lost his father on Christmas morning 1964.

“I was 16, he was 49,” Rice said. “He laid for nine days before he passed away.”

Rice’s father, Waverly Rice, was a volunteer fireman in LaVale when he resonded to a call on National Highway the morning of Dec. 16, 1964. After Waverly arrived on the scene of a townhome fire, he attempted to pull the firehose off the back of the truck. That’s when the brakes slipped, trapping him under the vehicle.

“The truck jumped backwards,” Rice said, “and it knocked (Waverly) down, and his feet went up over his head.”

According to Rice, the fire truck jumped once more, pinning Waverly’s feet behind him and breaking his pelvis.

“It was freezing,” Rice said, “and he was trapped under the truck.

“The ground was frozen and (officials) couldn’t dig him out.”

Waverly Rice is now among the 12 names featured on the Allegany County Line of Duty Deaths Memorial located outside the county office complex on Kelly Road.

Rice and his wife of 50 years, Claudia, were among hundreds of community members, legislators and emergency responders gathered on Sunday to unveil the memorial at a dedication ceremony.

“I think it was long overdo,” Rice said.

 
Posted by Allegany Garrett Counties Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association on Sunday, November 26, 2017

Funds for the nearly $4,000 memorial stone, feauturing the Fireman’s and EMT prayers, came through donations solicited by Allegany and Garrett Counties Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

Dick DeVore, association president and director of the Allegany County Department of Emergency Services, spoke at the event.

“The fire and EMS service is inherently dangerous,” DeVore said, “we recognize that.”

“You recognize that going into it, but you don’t go in believing that you are going to lose your life.”

He thanked county commissioners for “once again proving that you are a partner of the fire and EMS service” by allowing the monument to be placed on county land.

“It’s a great honor to be here today,” Allegany County Commissioner Bill Valentine said, “to see so many turn out to honor our fallen heroes.”

 
Posted by Allegany Garrett Counties Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association on Sunday, November 26, 2017

“I’d like to thank Gary Carpenter and the entire fire and EMS association for giving the county government the honor of locating the memorial on county property. It’s our way of saying thanks to all those who served this great county,” he said.

Carpenter, president of the Baltimore Pike Volunteer Fire Department and treasurer of the association, worked to secure funds for both the Allegany County and the Garrett County memorials to commemorate the 19 emergency service personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“I knew as a community, with the people in Allegany and Garrett County, they would rise to the occasion,” Carpenter said at the event.

“It’s hard to hear over the radio, ‘firefighter down,’” he said. “This is what it’s all about, folks.”

Pastor Dan Taylor, Sen. George Edwards, Del. Mike McKay, Del. Jason Buckel and Allegany County Commissioner Creade Brodie Jr. also spoke at the event, which ended with a playing of taps.

Rice’s wife Claudia said she still regrets not having the chance to meet Waverly. She began dating Rice one month before the accident.

“I didn’t get to meet him,” she said. “They tell me he was a catbird.”

Copyright 2017 Cumberland Times News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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