After being transferred to my station last year, I had the idea of having a leather shield made to serve as a tribute to a Captain that was killed in the Line of Duty in 1988. He worked in the station I am currently assigned, and when he got the tones that day…he didn’t return. We currently have a plaque up on the wall showing that a few trees were planted in memory of him, but I wanted to have something fire service related up on the wall. I featured his story in an article titled, Remembering A Fallen Brother: Charles Berry, a while back.
As we discussed it at the station, it all starting coming together. I reached out to Mikey Hillmann, the owner of 1st In Leather, a leather company based out of North Carolina. He loved the idea and jumped on board. We exchanged several messages about ideas of what to put on the shield after I told him Cpt. Berry’s story. It was at this time that I talked to Cpt. Berry’s grandson, who currently works for my department. He told me about several memories of his grandfather and highlighted his favorite hobby…fishing.
I relayed the message to Mikey at 1st In Leather, and he took over from there. Once he had drawn up a design, it was game time. All of his shields are hand-carved and customized to exactly what the customer wants. The shield just arrived in the mail last week, and we could not be more pleased! The fine lines and the intricate details really make this shield exactly what we were looking for. We tied several personal bits and pieces of Cpt. Berry into the design. The details are below.
- The Captain bars at the top of the shield are actual bars that were added to the leather shield. This way it draws attention to the rank that Captain Berry had obtained.
- The overall design has an “old school” look to it with two rockers that display the department name and his last name outlined in white paint.
- The center piece displayed the text “K – 10.” This was the apparatus that Cpt. Berry was riding when the accident occurred. Behind the text, there is an axe crossed with a fishing pole to represent his love for the fire service and for his fishing.
- At the bottom, Cpt. Berry’s service dates are stamped into the shield. The “1966-1988” remains in black text. This is so that the attention focuses on the center piece rather then the date that he lost his life.
The plans are that the shield will be mounted on a piece of wood with a plaque underneath, and then it will be displayed in the station. I will keep everyone posted on the progress of this project and be sure to check out 1st In Leather on Facebook by clicking here. They are going to be giving away a FREE SHIELD as soon as they hit 2500 fans on Facebook, and are getting really close. “LIKE” their page and get in on the giveaway.