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Emergency workers honor heroes

Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, local law enforcement agencies and military representatives are providing community members with an up close and personal look at the world of emergency responders.

The Heroes Day event in The Dalles has been scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, in observance of National Armed Forces Day. The fire district decided to team up with the Gorge Heroes Club, a local pro-troop group, to pay tribute to their “brothers and sisters” serving in Afghanistan and returning veterans.

“We support our armed forces and wanted to provide an opportunity for people to learn more about what emergency services personnel do and the equipment they use,” said Dan Hammel, division chief.

The event is free at the fire station, 1400 W. 8th Street. See a LifeFlight helicopter and displays set up by MCF&R and these agencies: Oregon State Police, The Dalles City Police Department, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, Hazmat Team 3 of Gresham, Oregon Department of Forestry and U.S. Forest Service Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. U.S. Army and possibly U.S. Marine Corps.

Smokey the Bear, the mascot for the forest service, and Sparky the Firedog, who works with Hammel and other local firefighters, will be present to greet children.

Hero’s club members will sell a hotdog lunch and beverages.

All proceeds will be used to ship care packages to troops in Afghanistan or support National Guard soldiers reintegrating back into the civilian world after a deployment.

“Our troops are taking care of us 24/7 and we all need to take a moment every now and then to thank them,” said Terri Hansen, vice-president of the heroes club. “There have been 15 deaths of soldiers, airmen and Marines this past month alone and it is important that their families, and the men and women they served with, know that these sacrifices are not forgotten.”

She said emergency responders stepped up immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the east coast to risk their lives to protect their fellow Americans. She said firemen and 72 police officers died that day and then the banner was handed off to the military, which has lost 6,400 troops and had another 40,000 injured on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan during the past 11 years.

“We are so proud of all of our emergency responders and plan to let the troops in harm’s way know about the showing of support they are getting from back home,” said Hansen.

Bob Stone Freeway Auto Center in The Dalles, 2222 W. Sixth Street, is also observing Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, which honors America’s fallen warriors, by donating a portion of sale proceeds from May 16-21 to the heroes club. Bob Stone, owner, has contributed thousands of dollars in recent years to help the nonprofit organization send care packages to military units with a point of contact from the Mid-Columbia region.

“It has been, and continues to be, an honor to support our troops,” he said.

Hansen is also organizing the heroes club garage sale on May 18 at the Hood River Amory, 1590 12th Street.

The doors open at 8 a.m. and people are invited to shop for a bargain until 4 p.m. Proceeds will be used for the nonprofit group’s continuing programs to educate the public about military service and take care of those in uniform.

People wanting to donate items for the sale can leave them during regular hours at The Dalles Liquor Store, 430 Mt. Hood Street, or Columbia Auto Sales and Repair, 518 East Second Street.

Debra Laraway of Pine Grove is coordinating the storage of quality used goods in Hood River County and can be reached for arrangements to drop off an item at 541-386-3318 or 541-490-6954.

The Gorge Heroes Club began informally sending boxes to troops from the Mid-Columbia region and beyond in 2007 and became a nonprofit organization a couple of years later.

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