By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Mid-Del Tinker 100 honored local first responders and public safety officers last week at their annual awards banquet at the Reed Conference Center.
The organization presented awards for firefighter and police officer of the year for Tinker Air Force Base, Midwest City and Del City, as well as emergency services person of the year. They also recognized retired chiefs and a hall of fame inductee.
Sen. Darrell Weaver was the guest speaker at the event. The former director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control now serves in the State Senate, representing Moore and parts of Cleveland County.
Weaver said he felt at home with all the first responders and public safety personnel in the room and thanked everyone for attending and supporting the organization. He said government provides many important services but none more paramount than public safety.
“The domestic cornerstone of this democracy is what’s in this room,” Weaver said. “If we fail our first responders then we’re in big trouble in this nation. I’ve watched both sides of it and we need to support the heroes in this room.”
Following Weaver’s speech, the group honored outstanding local firefighters, police officers and emergency staff.
Tinker Fire Chief Nathan Schooling presented the Tinker Firefighter of the Year to David Jones who has been a firefighter for 26 years and with Tinker since 2009. Jones is an outstanding incident commander and served as project manager for part of the fire station renovation.
“David has always been our go-to-guy,” Schooling said.
Del City Fire Chief Brandon Pursell recognized Sgt. Ryan Starzenski with the Firefighter of the Year Award. Starzenski helped firefighters handle a situation in which a van wrecked into a power pole on top of a natural gas line last summer.
“When he’s on duty we’re probably going to have something crazy happen and sure enough it did,” Pursell said.
Lt. Ross White was awarded the Midwest City Firefighter of the Year. Chief Bert Norton said White helped develop a process to better contact older adults who need assistance.
“Now we can get people help they need so they’re not just at home waiting for someone to stop by whether it’s a home health aid or neighbor coming by,” Norton said. “Ross has taken it upon himself to help.”
Sgt. Camron Nuner was honored as the Tinker Air Force Security Forces Police Officer of the Year. Lt. Col. Scott Patton, 72nd Security Forces Squadron Commander, said Nuner is a leader and mentor on the force.
“He has that next level leadership that you want to see,” Patton said. “He is that individual and mentor that people truly want to aspire to be.”
Derek Niehaus was presented with the Police Officer of the Year for the Tinker Air Force Base Navy Wing. His primary duties include working as an anti-terrorism training supervisor and managing four command programs.
Del City Police Chief Lloyd Berger presented Alexis Gomez with the Del City Police Officer of the Year Award. Gomez was honored for his work in helping a woman deliver a baby in her car during subzero temperatures.
“He was able to successfully deliver the child and made sure the child was breathing and provided care while waiting for medical personnel to arrive,” Berger said. “He determined the vehicle did not have heat or blankets. He then used his uniform coat to wrap the baby up to keep it warm.”
Midwest City’s Police Officer of the Year was given to Sgt. Jarvis Nash and Officer Keri Overstreet for their youth outreach and efforts to build positive relationships between police and the community.
“These two officers go above and beyond the call of duty,” said Chief Sid Porter. “They have used their own time, treasure and talents to help the families of these children.”
Tammy Dillow was the recipient of the Emergency Services Employee of the Year. She was honored for her efforts in treating a 22-month-old child who was viciously mauled by a pack of pit bulls in February of 2022.
“She remained calm and utilized her 35-years of field experience to manage the situation and looked out for the wellbeing of the patient as well as the wellbeing of first responders and the family,” said Larry Terry with SSM Health. “She even took care of them after the call. While in critical condition, this child underwent numerous surgeries and spent 10 months in the hospital. This paramedic played a significant role in the initial survival of this young child who may not have survived without the intervention and critical care provided on the way to the hospital.”
Mid-Del Tinker 100 also presented scholarships to children and spouses of first responders. The winners were: I’munique Green, Adrie Wilson, Abigail DeQuasie, Elijah Steele, Gabriel Vuycankiat, Kamryn Zuniga and Kayden Murphy.
State Sen. Brenda Stanley installed the new Mid-Del Tinker 100 board. They include Mike Bower, Adam Bush, Chris Hicks, James Johnson, Sally Newey and Jim Rollings. The new officers are Erin Stevens (president), Chris Neisent (vice president), Randy Smith (treasurer) and Sarah Graham (secretary).
Porter later presented the Hall of Fame Award to Cpt. Roger Ross. He joined the department in 1989 and served as a field training officer, detective, detective supervisor, lead law enforcement driving coordinator and is currently the shift one commander of patrol. Ross was also the longest serving member of the SWAT team with 30 years of experience.
“When I think of the Hall of Fame, I think commitment, sacrifice and honor and I can’t think of a person who fits that better than him,” Porter said.
Former Del City Police Chief Steve Robinson was presented with the End of the Trail Award. He served the department for 32 years from November 1989 until September 2022. Before joining the police department, he served in the U.S. Air Force.
Chief Terry Ford with Tinker Fire Department will also receive the End of Trail Award. He could not attend last week’s ceremony.
The event concluded with president Joyce George turning the reins over to Erin Stevens for 2023-24. Steven also presented George with a ceremonial president’s gavel and thanked her for her service.