Former Cutchogue firefighter honored 80 years later

10/16/2013 7:00 AM |
COURTESY PHOTO | (Left to right) Cutchogue firefighters William Dermody, 2nd Asst Chief Larry Behr, 1st Asst. Chief William Brewer, Paul and Candy Jablonski at the ceremony in Albany to honor Parker Wickham.

COURTESY PHOTO | (Left to right) Cutchogue firefighters William Dermody, 2nd Asst Chief Larry Behr, 1st Asst. Chief William Brewer, Paul and Candy Jablonski at the ceremony in Albany last week to honor Parker Wickham.

A Cutchogue firefighter who died in the line of duty more than 80 years ago while responding to a fire was honored last week for his sacrifice, joining thousands of other first responders on the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial wall in Albany.

James Parker Wickham — one of the first to join the then-fledgling department — died on April 5, 1930, when the roadster he was driving in skidded off the road while on the way to a fire call and crashed.

While his sacrifice hit the community hard in 1930, his death in the line of duty had largely been forgotten until recently, when a pair of fire commissioners from the Cutchogue Fire Department dug up records describing the circumstances around his death.

Mr. Wickham was included in the list of names on Southold Town’s Volunteer Firefighter’s Memorial in Cochran Park last November as one of seven local men to have died while serving their communities.

On Oct. 8, Mr. Wickham’s name was added to the state memorial, the oldest firefighter to be honored this year.

“It was nice to see that part of our departments history was recognized on the state memorial,” said Cutchogue’s first assistant fire chief Bill Brewer, who attended the ceremony with other firefighters from the department.

The induction ceremony was held at Empire State Plaza, where the memorial was dedicated in 1998. The memorial consists of 2,381 names, including Mr. Wickham and the eight other firefighters added this year.

Each name being added to the memorial was read aloud and either the family of the deceased or their department was presented with a state flag, Mr. Brewer said.

Mr. Brewer said that being at the ceremony — which also honored the two firefighters killed by a gunman in Webster, N.Y. last year and New York Fire Department Lt. Richard Nappi, who helped train local firefighters — “put things into perspective” about the dangers and sacrifices firefighters must make.

“Anything can happen,” Mr. Brewer said. “It’s a humbling and worthwhile experience to be part of that [ceremony].”

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