NEWBERRY — Newberry Fire Department honored Engineer Benji Morris Tuesday for his retirement after a combined 21 years with the city’s fire department as both a volunteer and career firefighter.
Morris came to the city as a volunteer in April of 1997 and was hired on full-time, two years later, Minick said. He was promoted to engineer in 2002.
The ceremony was held at the Newberry Firehouse Conference Center for Morris’ friends, family and colleagues.
Fire Chief Keith Minick said while Morris’ space would be filled at the department, that no one could fill his shoes.
“We appreciate your service you’ve given us,” Minick said. “You will be missed.”
Morris was presented several gifts Tuesday, on behalf of the fire department as well as the City of Newberry.
The Newberry Honor Guard presented Morris with the flag that flew during his final shift with Station 20 on August 15. The Honor Guard is made up of members who volunteer their time to go to retirements, funerals or other circumstances to represent the department in proper fashion, Minick said.
“It is customary, that on the last day of a retiring members’ shift we have the fire department flag fly and then present that as a gift to them,” he said.
The helmet Morris wore as engineer was retired and presented to him during the ceremony along with a fire service window decal.
Following the presentation of gifts, the Newberry County Communications Center made a “last call” broadcast in Morris’ honor.
Morris thanked everyone for attending the ceremony and his colleagues that had worked alongside him through the years.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my job here,” Morris said.
Minick thanked Morris’ family as he said the fire service often demands a lot of time and that he appreciated their sacrifice of sharing Morris with the fire department.
“This job is a family job and there’s a lot of training and dedication,” he said. “We appreciate what you’ve done for us.”
Members within the community offered their regards to Morris Tuesday, including former Captain Kyle Vaughn that retired earlier this year.
Vaughn told Morris he had been a part of many good shift crews throughout his time with the city and that he had been one of the ones that made that possible.
“I had the pleasure of being your captain and coworker,” Vaughn said. “You’re competent, capable and I never had to worry about things when you were around. Thank you for your time and service.”
Lieutenant Andrew Morris said Benji Morris was one of the first faces he remembers meeting when he came on board with the fire department.
“It was your iconic mustache,” he joked.
Andrew Morris thanked Benji Morris for his service and the knowledge that he passed on to other colleagues because he said that would keep them going for years to come.
Lieutenant Stuart Smith told Morris they had had the privilege of working his first and last shift together.
“It has been a great time,” Smith said. “I’ve enjoyed your dedication to the city. Whenever I need you, you were there for me and I thank you for that.”
City Manager Matt DeWitt said the city was fortunate to have such a dedicated and competent fire department staff, one of the reasons for this being because of employees like Morris.
“Guys like Benji have trained up and brought along the folks that have followed them into the profession,” DeWitt said. “For this reason, what he brought to our team will live on through those he trained and will be passed on to another generation of city firefighters.”
In closing, Minick said Morris would always remain a member of the fire service family and that he hoped that he would come back and visit.
“We have a lot of memories made and I appreciate your friendship,” Minick said to Morris. “You are a retired member of the fire department so we hope to see you and your family for years to come.”