Tarkington Fire Chief Paul Gregory is a Firefighter of the Year for the 100 Club of Houston. The announcement was made by the organization in July.
Gregory said he is humbled by the honor but feels the actions that got him the recognition were what any firefighter would have done given the circumstances.
On May 29, 2019, Gregory, along with Pct. 5 Deputy Constables Brian Bortz and Laci Pierce, responded to the shooting of Liberty County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Whitten. With little concern for his own welfare, Gregory helped secure the scene while life-saving medical care was administered by Pierce, who also works as a medic. Cleveland ISD Police Officer John Shannon was present during the shooting as well.
All four first responders – Gregory, Bortz, Pierce and Shannon – were recognized by the 100 Club of Houston for their actions that day. Whitten survived the shooting but was paralyzed. He died months later while undergoing physical therapy.
Gregory said the recognition is a great honor but there shouldn’t be any fireworks.
“There are firefighters out there who have done more than me. I got this for doing the same stuff I do every day as a firefighter,” he said.
With 25 years as chief, Gregory is the longest-serving fire chief for Tarkington Volunteer Fire Department. The son of former fire chief Dalton Laffie Gregory and brother to former firefighter Dalton Lee Gregory, he started serving the fire department while still a junior in high school.
“I can remember being the oldest one on the truck at the age of 17,” Gregory said.
At the time, the fire department had a junior fire department that introduced young men and women to the service and calling of being a firefighter. When Gregory turned 18 in 1989, he joined the fire department. Nowadays, he said, junior fire departments are a thing of the past in most communities due to state and federal restrictions.
The 100 Club honor has been recognized by U.S. Rep. Brian Babin (District 36-Texas), who sent Gregory a letter congratulating him.