Cherokee County Fire
& Emergency Services

Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins, Retires After 30 Years of Service

May 30, 2018

Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services hosted a dinner last night at the Union Hill Community Center to honor Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins, who retired from the fire department after thirty years of service.

After dinner and a slide-show presentation, Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, came forward to thank Wilkins for his commitment and service to the citizens of Cherokee County. According to Chief Prather, “Wilkins came to work on January 2, 1989 and was hired to work at the Oak Grove Fire Department for $6.04 an hour. Wilkins received his EMT certification in 1993 and was promoted to Sergeant in 1996. In September of 1998, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and became a Captain in 2003. Wilkins retired as a Battalion Chief, a position that he has held since 2009. Wilkins is one of only four of the original members of the Oak Grove Fire Department left.”

The remaining Oak Grove members are Battalion Chief, Danny West, Division Chief, Dan Floyd and Fire Chief, Tim Prather.

Chief Prather then presented Wilkins with his “bugle” award. The bugle or speaking trumpet is a reference to a megaphone like device that was used in the early days of the fire service. Wilkins came to the podium and shared some of his experiences in the fire department and thanked everyone for coming to the event.

After the “bugle” presentation, chiefs, battalion chiefs, firefighters and friends came forward to roast Wilkins including his daughter, Chessa McGinnis, who spoke about a life with a father who is a firefighter. Additional funny stories were told about Johnny’s career with the fire department. Some of the speakers included Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, Assistant Fire Chief, Eddie Robinson, Operations Chief, Shane West, Former Fire Chief, Bob Nealy, Shift Commander, Ryan McElwee, Battalion Chief, Danny West, Battalion Chief, Brian Ward, Battalion Chief, Fred Dobson, Capt. Scott Deal, Capt. Alec Adams, Capt. Marc Liscio, and Lt. Brady Cornelison.

Wilkins officially retired from the fire department last Monday. We congratulate Johnny Wilkins on his retirement and we thank him for thirty years of service to Cherokee County and its citizens.

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Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins (left), receives his
Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins (left), receives his "Bugle" Award from Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather. (click image for slideshow)
Johnny Wilkins daughter, Chess McGinnis, shares some stories about being the daughter of a firefighter.
Johnny Wilkins daughter, Chess McGinnis, shares some stories about being the daughter of a firefighter.
Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, shares a story or two.
Cherokee County Fire Chief, Tim Prather, shares a story or two.
Former Fire Chief, Bob Nealy, shares some stories about Johnny's earliest years with the fire department.
Former Fire Chief, Bob Nealy, shares some stories about Johnny's earliest years with the fire department.
Darrek Cornelison and his son, Lt. Brady Cornelison, laugh at some of the stories about Johnny.
Darrek Cornelison and his son, Lt. Brady Cornelison, laugh at some of the stories about Johnny.
Assistant Fire Chief, Eddie Robinson, comes to the podium to speak.
Assistant Fire Chief, Eddie Robinson, comes to the podium to speak.
Operations Chief, Shane West, has a story to share, too!
Operations Chief, Shane West, has a story to share, too!
Capt. Marc Liscio shares some fond memories about Johnny.
Capt. Marc Liscio shares some fond memories about Johnny.
Capt. Scott Deal tells a funny story about Johnny.
Capt. Scott Deal tells a funny story about Johnny.
Battalion Chief, Frankie Martinez, enjoys a funny story about his friend, Johnny Wilkins.
Battalion Chief, Frankie Martinez, enjoys a funny story about his friend, Johnny Wilkins.
EMS Chief, Danny West, comes to speak about Johnny.
EMS Chief, Danny West, comes to speak about Johnny.
Johnny Wilkins (left) shares a laugh with Battalion Chief, Brian Ward.
Johnny Wilkins (left) shares a laugh with Battalion Chief, Brian Ward.
Former Battalion Chief, Mike Smith, and his daughter visit with Johnny Wilkins.
Former Battalion Chief, Mike Smith, and his daughter visit with Johnny Wilkins.
Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins, gets a standing ovation for his service to Cherokee County.
Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins, gets a standing ovation for his service to Cherokee County.
Johnny Wilkins (center) joins with other retired members of Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services.
Johnny Wilkins (center) joins with other retired members of Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services.
Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins, shares his retirement with his family (left to right); Johnny wife, Debbie, Johnny, his granddaughter, Ruthie, daughter, Chessa McGinnis and her husband, Kevin.
Battalion Chief, Johnny Wilkins, shares his retirement with his family (left to right); Johnny wife, Debbie, Johnny, his granddaughter, Ruthie, daughter, Chessa McGinnis and her husband, Kevin.