The Meridian Volunteer Fire Department got together to celebrate one of their own, Ben Cheek, who has given his time to keep his friends and neighbors safe for 50 years and has been the chief for about as long too.

During the party several other volunteer firefighters agreed that Ben was a hard worker, ready to help and was often the first to a scene and the last to leave and many times the only one who could respond to a call.

Rep. Marcus McEntire also came to honor Cheek and had a special citation drafted to mark his years of service.

“Your commitment to this community is a big deal and to say ‘thank you’ really falls short,” McEntire said. “What you’ve done is really incredible and we just really appreciate you and your service to your community.”

McEntire then read from the document.

“Ben Cheek began serving the Meridian Volunteer Fire Department in 1969 after returning from serving his country in Vietnam,” it said. “Ben served countless hours to the Meridian fire department even becoming an EMT to better serve the citizens of Meridian.”

Cheek was also The Comanche Times, man of the year in 2001.

“He has served his county tirelessly and has put the needs of others above his own, helping others during their time of greatest need for the last 50 years,” finished the citation.

McEntire shared a personal story of how Cheek and the others of Meridian department touched his life.

“I still remember on Christmas day one year … they came by our house in the fire truck, somebody was dressed up as Santa Claus I believe and they gave us bags of fruit and things like that and I will never forget that,” he said.

The night wrapped up with pictures, hugs and many well wishes for an even longer career.

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