Former chief honored
Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 20, 2015
The memory of former Henleyfield Fire Chief Charles White was honored Saturday.
White became a member of the department two years after it was founded in 1978. His role in the department became more prominent when he became chief in 1983. But he would only serve about a year in that capacity when his life was cut short.
Current Chief Scott Sullivan said that on Sept. 10, 1984 White and several other volunteer firefighters responded to a structure fire in Carriere on Miss. 43 near Unity Church at about 3 a.m. After the fire was extinguished and the teams were wrapping up the scene, White suddenly needed to be taken to the hospital, Sullivan said.
He was brought to what was then Crosby Memorial Hospital for treatment. Medical staff determined he was suffering from a cardiac event, which took his life that day. Sullivan said since the cardiac event took place while he was on a call, White’s death was service related.
During the ceremony held at the Henleyfield Volunteer Fire Department, Sullivan said White was a retired aircraft mechanic and war veteran. He was born in April of 1922, and was a lifelong resident of Pearl River County.
Saturday, his memory was honored for all time.
After the plaque was presented, which displayed a full size firemen’s axe inscribed with White’s name along with key dates, his family posed with it for photos.
During the ceremony Fire Marshal Albert Lee briefed attendees about the significance of ringing a bell at such an occasion. Lee said ringing a bell typically denotes the conclusion of a call, but is also used to signify the passing of a comrade. After Lee spoke, a bell was rung several times to denote the end of White’s duties as a firefighter.
Sullivan said it was a shame that the department waited so long to honor their former chief.
“But we are glad we have the ability to do so,” Sullivan said.
Some of White’s family was in attendance for Saturday’s ceremony. Howard White, Charles’ brother, said he appreciated the Henleyfield Volunteer Fire Department paying tribute to his late brother.
“All of the family appreciates it,” Howard White said.
To Lee’s recollection, White is one of two volunteer firefighters who died while in the line of duty. Lee said the second was a Carriere volunteer firefighter who died in a car accident while she was responding to a call in Henleyfield years ago.