Local Firefighter With Two Purple Hearts is a ‘Vet Who Rocks’
This month's WPDH Vet Who Rocks is a Washingtonville firefighter with two Purple Hearts.
We received an incredible letter nominating George Bates to be honored as a WPDH Vet Who Rocks. Bates' friend and colleague Bill wrote such a compelling letter we wanted to share it with you in its entirety:
I wish to nominate my colleague George Bates for consideration as a 'Vet who Rocks.'
George is an extraordinary man whom I know through our mutual membership as volunteer firefighters in the Washingtonville, NY, Fire Dept.
Years ago, George was one of the senior men who taught me how to drive the rigs and make them do what they are designed to do. It was during my initial outing with him that he claims I took ten years off of his life when the sole of my boot caught on the accelerator while I was braking, but that is a story for another time, perhaps!
George was drafted into the US Army 2 days after his 20th birthday and was deployed from 1968-69. He was wounded at least twice that I know of and has two Purple Hearts as a result, together with numerous other medals, including a CIB (the medal of which he is most proud) and Bronze Star, among others.
One of the most memorable moments of my life is when George, in response to my question if he had ever visited the Purple Heart Hall of Honor, proceeded to tell me - completely to my surprise - the story behind one of his Purple Hearts. It was a humbling experience to listen to this veteran recount the events of that day in the jungle of Vietnam, which he did with such incredible detail that I could feel the dampness, smell the mud, and practically hear the gunshots; not to mention the feeling the fear that went along with all of it - truly incredible!!
George is a very quiet and humble man, a true gentleman in every sense of the word who never speaks of himself or his accomplishments. Consequently, while unquestionably honored to have been chosen to hear the account, I have often wondered why he decided that day to tell me what he did. I have always been struck by the fact that we just never know how many men and women are out there, that we see every day; who are veterans with these incredible stories of heroism and service that they keep to themselves or share only with a chosen few. I cannot help but wonder that for every veteran like George, how many others are out there? How I wish I could meet them and shake the hand of every one of them, just to say 'thank you for your service.'
George has been a vibrant presence in the firehouse for well over thirty years, is currently active, and has helped train many, many firefighters who have likewise gone on to help untold numbers of other people. His son and grandson are likewise actively involved in the fire company, too.
In addition, although I have no idea where they found the time, George, together with his wife Carol - who have been married for over fifty years - volunteered for many, many years with the local ambulance corps.
Truly, this is a man who has, like so many other veterans, returned to civilian life only to continue on with multiple careers of public service while raising earning a living and raising a family, who have clearly followed in his footsteps.
Very recently, George, along with a dozen other veterans, was honored by State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt with induction into the '99th Assembly District's Veterans' Hall of Fame', which honored local resident veterans, together with the Nam Knights motorcycle club, who were similarly honored, for their service to veterans and their families, among other things.
I wish to close by saying it is truly an honor to know and serve alongside such a man as George Bates, who, despite being the recipient of numerous material awards; I think considers the love and respect of his family, friends, and colleagues to be the greatest reward of all.
Thank you, George, for your service and we're also so grateful to Bill for giving us the opportunity to share George's story with the Hudson Valley.
Georgeh will receive $500 for being this month's WPDH Vet Who Rocks. He will also be in the running for $10,000 which will be handed out to one monthly honoree on Veteran's Day this November.
Thank you to our partners: Tompkins Community Bank, Unity Ambulette, Xterior Solutions and MHA of Dutchess County.