American Legion dinner honors Police and Fire Bureaus

Just who was presented with the 2010 Russ Lemmon Awards, by the American Legion Portland Post #1?  We’ve got the story – and photos – right here …

The main room was packed as the 2010 Russ Lemmon Friendship Dinner for Police Officer and Firefighter of the Year gets underway at the American Legion Portland Post #1.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As the sun set on April 24, the main hall at American Legion Portland Post #1, on SE 122nd Avenue, began to fill, and the Russ Lemmon Friendship Dinner for Police Officer and Firefighter began.

If you haven’t read our past accounts of this annual event, Russ Lemmon was a long-time member of Post #1, and a Multnomah County Deputy Sheriff. He was known as a man of principle, dedication, and integrity, and thus the awards were named in his memory, to recognize outstanding service and excellence in the performance of duty.

Folks with American Legion Portland Post #1 Auxiliary take a bow for the delicious three-course dinner they served at the event.

“This is a decades-old tradition with us,” explained Richard Kemp, the Adjutant of American Legion Portland Post #1. “After a dinner, we celebrate our public safety organizations – which, all too often, are not recognized for their service. While we honor one individual from each Bureau, we’re honoring all of the men and women in our Fire and Police Bureaus.”

John Peterson, the District 8 Commander of American Legion Oregon, welcomes everyone to the awards presentation ceremony.

2010 Police Officer of the Year Award

Portland Police and Bureau East Precinct Lt. Dave Hendrie (at podium) tells about the accomplishments of this year’s recipient, Officer Steven Wilbon (at left).

This year, the Police Officer of the Year introduction and presentation was made by Portland Police and Bureau East Precinct Lt. Dave Hendrie.

Before the ceremony Hendrie told us, “This is really nice, for two reasons. First it’s community recognition of our officers and firefighters. But secondarily, the people with whom we’re celebration bring a lot of history and tradition of service to this formal meeting. I like that. It’s great being here with people who have served our country so well.”

During the presentation, Hendrie spoke of Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Steven Wilbon. “Steve is a relatively new officer, less than five years.  He’s a solid officer. For me, this means an officer who ‘gets it’. He understands it is job is to serve the community. He is a positive attitude. He works safely. He works well with other officers on the shift. He’s a motivator.”

Another reason Hendrie noted was Officer Wilbon’s enthusiasm. “He goes above and beyond taking radio calls and stopping the obvious crime. He’s out in the community, on the lookout for people that are doing bad things. He’s on the leading edge of crime prevention; that’s why we’re honoring him.”

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Steven Wilbon is congratulated by American Legion Portland Post #1 Commander Carl Akin.

Wilbon later told us he felt honored that the Bureau chose to honor him for “doing his job.” He became a cop, he said, following in his father’s footsteps. “I  looked at what he did, and realized that this is an honorable job. It’s a team atmosphere, team environment. I love working with these guys.”

Asked about being recognized for being a “solid crime-fighter”, Wilbon commented modestly, “I don’t read too much into it. They pay me to catch bad guys; that’s what I do.”

2010 Firefighter of the Year

Portland Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Mark Schmidt (left) tells why their Bureau has chosen Deputy Chief Glen Eisner as their Firefighter of the Year.

To get the word on why Deputy Chief Glen Eisner was chosen as Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) “Firefighter of the Year”, we spoke with Chief John Klum.

“This is the highest honor we can bestow on of one of our own,” Klum told us. “Glen Eisner has been with us for 33 years. But more than longevity, he has done tremendous things for our bureau. For example, he originated our emergency management systems here in the City of Portland.”

Eisner has also been personally responsible for millions of dollars in urban area security grant funding, Klum added. “He’s taken our preparedness level for both man-made and natural disasters up to one of the highest levels in the United States.

As PF&R’s logistics officer; Eisner has re-specified their fire apparatus [engines and trucks] and bring it up to 21st century safety standards. The fire engines that they’re now purchasing will protect firefighters with rollover protection, airbags, and other safety features one would find in passenger vehicles.

“And currently,” Klum concluded, “he’s working on the General Obligation Bond for upgrading facilities. He’s been a firefighters firefighter. Glen has a tremendous amount of experience in operations and that carries through into his administrative assignments of these men and for several years.”

American Legion Portland Post #1 Commander Carl Akin and Oregon American Legion District 8 Commander John Peterson commend PF&R Deputy Chief Glen Eisner as their Firefighter of the Year, as Deputy Chief Mark Schmidt looks on.

About his award, Eisner said, “I feel overwhelmed, and deeply humbled. It’s the greatest honor that a firefighter can have at Portland Fire & Rescue. I accept it in the spirit of honoring all of the men and women with whom I work at the Bureau.”

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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