Okla. firefighters grant retired captain's wish for one more fire engine ride

Jerald Allison, who currently lives in a retirement community specializing in dementia care, served 26 years with the Muskogee Fire Department


Ronn Rowland
Muskogee Phoenix, Okla.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — Jerald Allison wanted one more ride in a fire engine.

The retired Muskogee fire department captain was overheard by residents and workers at Azalea Gardens Memory Care say that he wanted to take one more ride.

One of the workers who heard him was Hope Hardesty, who also serves with the Okay Fire Department. She contacted her fellow firefighters to try to work it out.

"Jerald talks non-stop to his wife about being on the fire department," Hardesty said. "I'm part of Okay Fire and we had our monthly meeting Tuesday. I asked the guys and they showed up — it was no problem.

"It makes me proud that all these guys showed up to honor someone that for 26 years did what we do."

Once the Okay firefighters were on board, Payden Metzger of Okay thought about contacting Muskogee to see if they were willing to help. He said there was no hesitation.

"We came together as a group and decided we wanted to make that happen," Metzger said. "He served on Muskogee for 26 years and retired as a captain."

So at 10 a.m. Saturday, Allison, along with his wife Val, residents of Azalea Gardens and members of the two fire departments escorted Jerald outside to see four engines waiting for their special passenger.

"It touches my heart," Val said. "When he went out on a fire, you never knew what was going to happen. He got injured a couple of times, not anything drastic.

"That's what he wanted. He loved it — he said it was the best job in the world."

Jerald was presented with his old helmet, pinned with his badge and helped into the passenger's seat of Okay Engine No. 3. Once everyone was secured, the four engines headed east on Chandler Road to South Country Club Road, left on South Country Road to East Hancock Street, west on East Hancock Street to South York Street and then east on Chandler Road back to Azalea Gardens.

Upon returning to Azalea Gardens, Allison was presented with a plaque honoring him and his 26 years of service with the Muskogee Fire Department.

"You remember everything and don't think about it," Jerald said. "This was nice."

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(c)2021 the Muskogee Phoenix (Muskogee, Okla.)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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