City of Williston Fire Department Chief Matt Clark was congratulated by the City for being recognized with the Employer Patriot Award.
Clark joins Williston Police Department’s Chief David Peterson and Investigations Captain Steven Gutknecht who were also nominated and recognized with Patriot Awards earlier this year.
Clark was nominated by Wisconsin National Guard member and WFD firefighter/EMT, Specialist Abigail Helwig. In her nomination of Clark, Helwig highlighted the fact that despite being extremely busy with his new role as fire chief, finishing paramedic school, and supporting and spending time with his family, Clark made time to assist her.
“Chief Clark showed exemplary support as I prepared to deploy,” Helwig stated. “He reached out several times to ask if I had any questions and if he could help me with the transition in any way. He went out of his way to meet with me and discuss how to maximize my benefits from the department while deployed and offered advice from his previous deployments.”
Helwig joined WFD in June 2019 and serves as a medic for the Wisconsin National Guard. Helwig is currently on deployment.
“For those of you who do not know Abigail, she’s very soft spoken, works hard, and doesn’t ask anything from anyone else,” explained Clark. “She’s always there for everyone on the department. To get this nomination from her means a lot and coming from the service myself, I’m proud to receive this award.”
Clark joined the United States Air Force in 2011 and served as a military firefighter in Texas, Germany, and California. In 2015, he joined WFD and simultaneously transitioned to a training role with the North Dakota Air National Guard. Chief Clark retired from the military in June 2019.
A small ceremony was held on Thursday, Sept. 23 at City Hall with individuals representing the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve attending via ZOOM and in-person, including ESGR volunteer Jerry Samuelson who presented Chief Clark with his award.
In addition to the Patriot Award, WFD was presented with a symbolic Statement of Support certificate. Signed by Clark, the statement will be displayed at each fire station to publicly affirm Williston Fire Department’s support for military veterans and active members of the National Guard and Reserve.
“You recognize the importance of when your employees and personnel are being deployed and this tells me, personally, the type of character that you carry,” Tate Cymbaluk, the Police, Fire, and Ambulance Commissioner, told Clark. “On behalf of myself, Mayor Klug, and the rest of the Commission, we thank you, congratulation you, and we appreciate your leadership.”
The Patriot Award was created by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a program of the United States Department of Defense. It recognizes individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who have answered their nation’s call to serve.
ESGR’s mission is to develop and promote supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws.