Greg Johnston receives Buck Clough Memorial Award
SUDLERSVILLE — In an evening of many awards during the 2016 Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company banquet, the top honor this year went to 37year volunteer member Greg Johnston. He was presented the Buck Clough Memorial Award, representing the fire department’s “best example of the characteristics of their fallen brother — dedication, honor, leadership and courage,” as the award was established by the Maryland State Fireman’s Association three years ago. Johnston became the fire department’s third member to be so honored, following Malcolm Faust in 2014 and Francis Kinnamon in 2015.
When the award was announced by Clough’s widow, Sandy Clough, the audience gave a standing ovation for Johnston who has served twice as fire chief at SVFC. The award was created in honor of former Fire Chief “Buck” Clough, who died at age 41 while responding to a fire call April 15, 2009. Clough swerved to avoid hitting a vehicle that did not yield to the emergency fire chief’s car he was driving and struck a tree.
Several people at the banquet said, “It’s the most prestigious award presented here at the fire department.” Emotions with the award appeared to be high, as Johnston’s wife, Christine was moved to tears as she attempted to take a picture of her husband receiving the award.
Greg Johnston, also a 28year professional firefighter with Baltimore County, later said, “Our families have been best friends. Our children were the same ages growing up together, and involved in many of the same activities. Buck meant so much to our community.”
Clough was a life member of the fire department with more than 25 years of volunteer service. He was the youngest member ever to be voted fire chief at the age of 21, the year after he married Sandy. Both Buck and Sandy are graduates of Queen Anne’s County High School, class of 1985 and 1986, respectively. He remained in fire department leadership following the births of his children, but did not pursue becoming fire chief again until his children were older, almost 20 years later.
Nominations for the award are received by the fire department awards committee. The committee decides which nominated candidate(s) is/ are most worthy.
In 2016, SVFC responded to 202 emergency calls. Sudlersville’s 2016 Firefighter of the Year was William Davis; first runner up, Justin Skinner; second runner up, Matt Skinner; and third runner up Mike Davis Jr.
Joey Apple, newly installed fire chief for 2017, received the 2016 Officer of the Year Award for his service as assistant fire chief in 2016.
The Volunteer of the Year Award went to two people — Earl Leager and Pamela Wise.
Robert “Bobby” Kimble was recognized for answering the most calls, 147.
Hunter Francis was named Junior Firefighter of the Year, and Margaret Apple was named Cadet of the Year.
Member Chuck Downey was presented a special active service member jacket for his half a century of volunteering.
More than 255 guests attended the banquet. Food provided by Helen Todd Catering of Centreville, and music for the evening provided by Chris Startt.
In memory of her husband, Sandy Clough, left, presents the “Buck” Clough Memorial Award to Greg Johnston, center. Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ira Russell is at right.
2017 Sudlerville Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary officers take their oath of office. From left, Debra Shelton president; Amanda Nicholson, vice president; Bev Dadds, secretary; Jenny Leager, corresponding secretary; Nody Swain, treasurer; and Lainey Webb, assistant treasurer.
The 2016 Volunteer of the Year award went to both Earl Leager, left, and Pamela Wise during the annual Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company banquet, Saturday evening, Jan. 21.