Community Heroes: Big Stone Gap Army veteran committed to putting community first and self last


WISE COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) Each week, we introduce you to someone who makes our community a better place to live. They are called Community Heroes.

This week, we take you to Big Stone Gap, Virginia where one man is committed to putting his community first and his self last.

“Jim would rather do for others than himself. He would much rather go without, to see somebody else have something,” Wise County, Virginia Life Care Ambulance Services paramedic, Kristi Dingus said.

When Jim Vernon walks into a room, those around him find solace in knowing he there to make everything better.

“He always wants to take care of other people. He puts his self last,” Sergeant Gary McCarthy Wise County said.

Vernon joined the military at age 19. He first joined the National Guard and then the Army. Due to a house fire, Vernon lost all of his memorabilia from the military.

“All of my friends I went to school with went to the Army and I wanted to be with them,” Wise County, Virginia Life Care Ambulance Services paramedic Jim Vernon said.

The now 73-year-old uses his time to serve those in his community who are in need of essentials. Each week, Vernon delivers about 1,000 food boxes to people in wise county, Virginia.

He delivers food boxes all week long for no payment whatsoever. He does it just so these people who don’t have anything,” Dingus said.

Sergeant McCarthy said, “He has a big heart for people in need with food or anything. He really enjoys helping them.”

His service does not stop there. He also has more than 30 years in the ambulance service. He has been with the one in Wise County for just a year. He was with Friendship Ambulance Services for about 30 years. Vernon is also a volunteer for the Wise County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office.

“I do the extraditions. He goes on transports with me some, when he can,” Sergeant Gary McCarthy said.

“We just got back from California last week. We’re working on a trip to go to Texas in a couple of weeks,” Vernon said. “They think they’re going too runaway but Gary is just like a bloodhound. He tracks them down.”

He is committed to putting those in need first and his self last.

“A lot of dedication, a lot of years of experience of knowing stuff. He’s real good with patients and their families; talking to them and being able to communicate with them,” Sgt. McCarthy said.

And that is why he’s our community hero.

If you know someone who makes our community a better place to live, we want to hear from you! Nominate them to be an ABC Tri-Cities Community Hero! Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to nominate them.

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