Local firefighter receives Medal of Valor, highest award in city

Receiving the Medal of Valor is the highest award a resident of London can receive. Ricky George, Captain at London Fire Department, earned the award for an act of heroism performed on May 26, when the Huffman & Huffman office fire occurred.

On that day, Capt. George saved the life of Firefighter Brandon Buckner and ensured the safe exit of Firefighter Trevor Overbay while also being injured himself.

Though George does not believe his act makes him a hero, the city recognized his courageousness — declaring him to meet the exact definition of one.

On Monday evening, a Medal of Valor Ceremony was held for Capt. George at the London Community Center, honoring his bravery and selflessness in the field.

Mayor Randall Weddle started the event by articulating the purpose of the award, sharing that it is only awarded to those that have gone above and beyond the calls of duty.

Mayor Weddle explained that in order for an individual to receive the award, he or she must first be nominated by a community member or a fellow worker. The nomination is then reviewed by a committee who votes whether the nominee has truly earned the award.

Once the committee approves the nomination, the mayor must then sign off on the award, providing the final approval. George’s heroism was not up for debate for Mayor Weddle, who confidently signed off on the award.

Capt. George’s comrades also spoke at the ceremony, including Chief Donnie Hale, Firefighter Overbay, and Firefighter Buckner.

“His commitment to the city of London and the Fire Department is unmatched,” Chief Hale stated.

When Overbay spoke on behalf of George, he recounted the events that took place on May 26 and gave praise to George who is not only his comrade, but his friend.

“He has shown us what it means to serve with grace and dignity, reminding us that, with determination and passion, anything is possible,” Overbay said.

Each testament to George’s outstanding performance was touching, but Buckner’s was especially emotional.

Buckner was immediately moved to tears upon taking his stance at the podium, reciting John 16:13 from the Bible.

“You deserve this award you’re getting today more than anybody’s ever deserved anything,” Buckner told George. “Through this, we have a bond that will never be broken. We will be brothers forever. I’m forever in your debt for what you did for me that day.”

Buckner added that he hopes to never have to return the favor, but that he will if that moment ever arises.

“I get to watch my daughters grow up, and grow old, and hit all their milestones because of what you did, and I love you for that,” he stated.

Buckner’s wife, Brandi Buckner, spoke subsequently. Mrs. Buckner also began with the quote of a Bible verse, hers being of Ecclesiastes 4:10.

“Some may not know the impact of your actions that day, but I do. I know that your quick response ensured Brandon received rapid medical attention, it prevented him from potentially getting burned or suffering from smoke inhalation, and it gave me more time to make memories with my husband,” Mrs. Buckner stated.

Similar to her husband, she noted that their families now have an unbreakable bond.

Capt. George can serve as an example of what it means to be a true hero with the City of London thanking him for his incredible service and for inspiring the community.