Gulfport fireman gets a heartwarming surprise

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What started out as a normal day at work for Gulfport Fireman J.R. Valdez quickly changed into an unforgettable moment when he walked into Gulfport Fire Chief Beyerstedt’s office this morning.

J.R.’s family and friends surprised him during his shift to give him two fire helmets that both contain a lot of meaning. J.R. is a third generation Gulfport firefighter, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather and grandfather who both served the City of Gulfport as firemen many years ago.

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Former Gulfport Fire Chief James White was the one who set up the presentation for J.R. He says J.R.’s great-granddad acted as a mentor for him in his early years as a young fireman. “That’s why I wanted to pass on these things that I got from his great-grandfather because it meant a lot to me and I know it will mean a lot to him.”

Valdez said, “When you work with the fire service, not only do you have your family but you create a family at the department as well. You spend every third day here. You communicate with these guys, you live with these guys, and they become part of your family. Having that memorabilia at the house reminds me of my other family.”