HAMPTON, Tenn. (WJHL)– Boy Scout troop 516 helped Seth Whitehead complete his Eagle Scout project–a dedication memorial for four firefighters that lost their lives in the Jenkins Mountain wildfire of 1954, a tragedy remembered for generations.
“I’m a very big history person. I just wanted to show the community what happened here on that day,” said Whitehead. “A lot of planning went into this and it’s taken about over a year now.”
Whitehead and his troop had help from the Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department and the Tennessee Division of Forestry.
“What we did first was we dug up the ground, then got all the other scouts to help me and we put the stones down,” said Whitehead. “We just put these lava rocks and the black smooth stones down last week, it’s taken a very long time.”
Hampton Valley Forge Fire Chief Chris Isaacs said they will continue to improve the memorial in the future.
“We’re going to add some fencing around it to protect and we’re going add flowers to it throughout the years to change with it,” said Isaacs. “We’re going to honor, protect it and take care of this for many years to come,” Isaacs told News Channel 11.
The memorial included engraved stones of all four names of the firefighters that passed away: Robert Simerly, Herman Carden, Kenneth Pierce and Jerry Woods. Pictures of the memorial can be seen on the project’s Facebook Page.
Forestry Technician James Heaton helped supervise the project.
“Well, this is a project that’s been a long time in the works. It’s a very well-deserved project, something that we have recognized as being needed for many years now,” said Heaton. “Matter of fact, 69 years have passed since they perished here on the mountain, so we were very happy and very excited to be a part of it.”
Seth Whitehead and the team that helped him make this project possible are planning to hold a memorial dedication ceremony in April or May.
The memorial can be seen at the Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department.