Saint Peters, Missouri
Central County Fire & Rescue Dedicates New Fire Truck in Honor of American Veterans
Local veterans and active military personnel are invited to participate in a traditional “push-back” ceremony to place the truck in service.
With construction underway for three new fire trucks purchased by Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) over a year ago, a last minute idea to paint one of the fire trucks with an American flag design resulted in a unique fire truck that is something never before created. CCFR will place the “American Veteran Fire Truck” in service with a traditional “push-back” ceremony.
Saint Peters is the former home of Marine Lance Corporal Jared Schmitz, who was killed in action on August 26, 2021 as the result of an enemy attack while supporting non-combatant evacuation operations in Kabul, Afghanistan during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. It was during the services to honor Lance Corporal Schmitz’ life and his ultimate sacrifice that the idea to dedicate a truck in his honor was first born. Initially referred to as “the flag truck,” the original idea of painting the truck with an American flag design grew to incorporate multiple elements of military service and sacrifice, including the POW-MIA theme and the emblems for every military branch.
“Our entire community was in shock and mourning the death of a local hero, and we knew we wanted to do something to honor him,” says Jason Meinershagen, CCFR Deputy Chief and Public Information Officer. “Our fire district is very supportive of our veterans, so we quickly knew it was not enough to dedicate a fire truck to just one man, as tragic as his death was. We wanted to do something that touched the heart of every patriot in our community,” says Meinershagen.
The push-back ceremony is a tradition dating back to the early days of firefighting when horses could not easily back the equipment into the station, so they were disconnected from the fire equipment and firefighters would push the equipment back into the bay. In today’s fire service, it is used to pay homage to that tradition when placing a new apparatus in service for the first time by pushing the truck back into the station.
Last December, on the 80th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor in 1941, CCFR firefighters presented a letter of appreciation to over 280 employees at the manufacturing plant who had a part in the design, construction, and painting of the fire truck. In part, the letter read, “Our mission here at CCFR is ‘Working Together, Supporting Our Community,’ and we know of no greater or more honorable way to support our community than to support the veterans who live among us. Whether they served in wartime or in peacetime, on American soil or in distant lands, every American veteran deserves the respect and appreciation of a grateful nation, regardless of political or religious affiliation. The American Veteran Fire Truck you have designed and built is a testament to the pride we have in our nation and the love we share for the veterans who have given so much.”
CCFR is inviting local dignitaries, veterans, active military personnel, and the media to join them in the push-back ceremony that will officially commemorate the American Veteran Fire Truck and place it into active service. The push-back ceremony will begin at 2:00 P.M. on Friday, March 4, 2022 at CCFR firehouse #5, 3421 Harry S. Truman Blvd, St. Charles, MO.
“Every fire truck tells a story, and this one certainly stands out,” says Meinershagen. “This truck is a rolling tribute to every American who has the distinguished honor of calling themselves an American veteran, and we are proud to present this fire truck to our community, where it will continue to live out its story for many years.”
The residents and taxpayers of CCFR’s fire district did not incur any additional cost for the painting of this truck. The difference in cost for this paint scheme over the original paint scheme was donated by an anonymous donor.
Credit: Jason Meinershagen, Deputy Chief