Thirteen first responders who paid the ultimate price will be honored Sept. 24 with the unveiling of the Onslow County Public Safety Memorial.
“Many of these families have no final resting place for their loved one and have waited years for a place to honor their fallen family member,” Onslow County Communications Specialist Riley Eversull said.
This memorial — called “Reflected in Our Eyes” — is a long-awaited offer of respect for the public safety professionals who gave their lives in service of their community, she said.
For some, it is coming decades after death.
Larry Jones’ father, Jimmy Jones, died in a Hofmann Forest fire in 1972 while working with the N.C. Forestry Service. Larry Jones was 5 years old at the time.
“He went out that morning to fight the fire and the wind changed on him,” Jones said.
For years he’s been riding his motorcycle to Raleigh where his father was honored in 2010 at the fallen firefighters memorial there, he said. They have a motorcycle ride that has grown to include 100 riders in honor of the annual service.
“I wanted to try and do the same thing . . . here in Jacksonville,” he said.
Jones got in touch with Jimmy Davis to discuss putting a ride together.
Davis also has a personal tie to the event. His father’s name will be on the memorial, too.
Jimmy Lee Davis Sr. served as chief with White Oak Volunteer Fire Department when he died responding to a fire call on Dec. 10, 2009, his son said.
Jimmy Davis Jr. has ridden in the Raleigh motorcycle ride since his father was honored there alongside Jimmy Jones in 2010.
“We are putting together this ride to show support for the families of the fallen,” Davis said. “It’s not just about my dad. The memorial is about the 13 fallen and their families.”
The two men plan to honor the fallen by having the first 13 motorcycles carry a hat representing one of the fallen as they ride from Richlands to Jacksonville.
Riders are asked to meet at Piggly Wiggly, located at 8406 Richlands Hwy. in Richlands by 7 a.m. Sept. 24, with kickstands up at 8 a.m. There are no fees to ride and all riders are welcome.
The ceremony is scheduled to follow at 10 a.m. Sept. 24 at the memorial site, located at the Burton Business and Industrial Park entrance off of N.C. 24 in Jacksonville.
In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved to Oct. 8.