First responders and a local educator were among those recently honored by the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) in Boaz at its annual awards banquet Thursday night.

VFW Commander Ed Teal first recognized the post’s Firefighter of the Year, Lt. Jonathan Holcomb of the Guntersville Fire and Rescue.

“It means a lot to just be recognized and honored with this award,” Holcomb said. “It definitely means a lot, especially coming from these guys here at the VFW who’ve served in our country’s military and are well respected.”

Following Holcomb, Boaz Police Sgt. Jarrod Davis was named the VFW’s Police Officer of the Year. Davis was also awarded the Boaz Civitan Club’s Police Officer of the Year.

“It’s a great honor,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of other people that deserve it, but I’m glad they saw something in me. I work really hard at it, going to work everyday trying to make our home a better place to live, so it’s just a great honor and I’m very appreciative.”

Blake Nelson, a history teacher at Albertville High School, was awarded the VFW Teacher of the Year. Teal said Nelson also won VFW Teacher of the Year on both the district and state level.

“It means a lot not just to me, but for the school as well,” Nelson said. “It’s really important that kids understand the importance of history, where we come from, what we do and all the different things in our country that make it great. So, I just try my best to relay that message to them everyday.”

With Nelson earning the Alabama VFW Teacher of the Year award, the Boaz VFW has been home to the state winners for two straight years. John Lowery, a history teacher at Boaz High School, won the state award in 2018.

Chase and McKenzie Williams, of Sardis City, were recognized for winning the VFW’s essay contests and awarded scholarship money. The VFW also recognized The Reporter and The Advertiser Gleam for their “wholehearted efforts” in helping promote the post.

The VFW Auxiliary also chose to recognize a few of the VFW’s members, including Teal and Post Quartermaster Randall Haney, with quilts.

Teal and Haney are both set to retire from their respective positions in June. Teal said John Tuck, who has served as the VFW’s fair chairman, is the post’s commander-elect.

“I’ve been post commander for the last three years,” Teal said. “It’s a pretty demanding job and so I’m going to let some of these younger guys take over. One thing I’m most proud of in my time as commander is our membership. We’ve grown from about 10 to 12 members at each meeting to around 40 to 50. We’ve even had 60 at one meeting. But I’m proud of that. We have about 375 members now, and that’s about 125 more than when I took over.

“John [Tuck] will be a great leader,” Teal added. “He’s been the fair chairman for the last three years and he’s done a great job organizing our committee. We went from having one person doing it all to having about 15 people helping out and each having one job. It’s made things much easier … I’m really proud of the job he’s done.”

Teal said all VFW members work voluntarily and do not receive any compensation.

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