Rockingham Fire Dept. adds new team member

As unit chaplain, pastor wants to be “one of the guys”

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — Harold Isler continued his effort to mold the Rockingham Fire Department in his vision by adding a unit chaplain to the team.

Jerry Turner, who previously served as pastor at Heritage Baptist Church in Rockingham and as minister of education at Roberdel Baptist Church before a debilitating accident forced him to retire, was introduced to more than a dozen firefighters Monday night at Station 1 on South Lawrence Street.

Pastor Jerry Turner was introduced Monday night as the Rockingham Fire Department's chaplain.

Pastor Jerry Turner was introduced Monday night as the Rockingham Fire Department’s chaplain.

Isler, who took over for the retired Charles Gardner in August 2014, addressed the troops during a briefing session prior to a training exercise and talked about the need and practice purpose of a unit chaplain.

“Sometimes we need people to talk to,” Isler said. “Firemen are notorious for holding that stuff in and trying to work it out ourselves.”

Isler turned towards Turner: “I feel like you’re what we need.”

Turner relayed part of his personal experience, which led to his recent arrival to the Rockingham Fire Department to ensure a carseat for one of his grandchildren was properly installed. The department is a permanent carseat safety check station.

“I felt like God called me here that day,” said the military veteran and classic car aficionado.

Turner spoke briefly of his career path and of a fall from atop of his two-story house, “and I landed on my feet.”

The accident broke both his legs.

“My legs have been reconstructed,” he said, with metal and “I’ve got other people’s bones.”

Turner addressed the firefighters. He assured them of confidentiality.

“When we’re talking, it’s one on one and it doesn’t go any further than that,” Turner said. “I hope we have a lot of good times. I’m yours.”

Lt. Vernon McKinnon asked if Turner planned to be on scene. A previous unit chaplain stayed at Station 1 when firefighters were deployed. There is a possibility a firefighter gets hurt, McKinnon said. Or a family watching their home burn might need a shoulder to lean on.

“I’ll be on scene,” Turner said. “You never know what may happen.”

Turner said afterward he hoped to “just be one of the guys.”

Turner’s role is a volunteer one. Isler said that, among other things, he plans to offer a Sunday service fore firefighters at the station.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, News, Public safety, Religion, Rockingham

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