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Salute to service
VFW banquet recognizes public safety
VFW honors community 2 es
Larry Geld, left, talks with his grandson, Forsyth County Sheriff's deputy Rodney Pirkle, before a ceremony Wednesday night at Post 9143 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. - photo by Emily Saunders

Post 9143 was packed Wednesday night as members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Ladies Auxiliary gathered for pie and patriotism.

Nine of the post's 11 members who served in World War II attended the banquet and were honored by the Chestatee River Chapter of the Daughters of the Revolution.

Post Commander Donald Hughes introduced public safety personnel being recognized this year for their hard work and dedication.

"I've been in front of the membership for our regular meetings once a month, but I've never been in front of a crowd this size," he said.

Gary Patty was named firefighter of the year.

In his introduction, Hughes said Patty began as a volunteer Forsyth County fireman in 1980 and worked out of Station 4.

"Over the years, many times he has gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and gone to fight fires," Hughes said. "In 1987, he helped start the fire prevention program in Forsyth County."

Hughes said Patty works for a communications provider, but still volunteers with the local fire department.

"It's an honor to receive this from veterans because I respect you all," he said. "And I thank my station members for being here tonight."

Geert Van Linden received the Emergency Medical Technician of the Year Award. Forsyth County Sheriff's deputies Rodney Pirkle and Kevin Mitchell also were honored.

Hughes noted that Pirkle is the sheriff's north precinct 2007 deputy of the year, while Mitchell received the same recognition from the department's south precinct.

"It's an honor and a privilege to be here today," Pirkle said. "I'm a veteran myself and I love this hall and this community."

The post also received a visit from Girl Scout Troop 4018, commending the sixth-graders for their patriotism.

Miss Georgia Junior Teen Emily Garmon shared a patriotic speech with the group. Garmon, a sophomore at West Forsyth High School, is going to Orlando, Fla., this month to compete in a national pageant.