Trooper 7 Hangar Dedication and Ribbon Cutting

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Trooper 7 Hangar Dedication and Ribbon Cutting

California, MD - 9/18/2011

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By Dick Myers

The St. Mary’s County Commissioners attend a lot of ribbon cuttings, but Commissioner Todd Morgan said, “This is very personal.” With Maryland State Police helicopter Trooper 7 behind him, Morgan spoke of the dedication of the county’s emergency responders and the crew of Trooper 7 who flew his wife Maria to the hospital after a recent traffic accident. Without them, “She would be dead today,” he said.

Maria Morgan is still in a coma at a Philadelphia rehabilitation hospital. But the commissioner thanked everyone and tearfully added, “She hopes to come here someday and thank you personally.”

The ribbon cutting occasion was the dedication and open house of the new hangar at St. Mary’s County Airport for Trooper 7 and the MSP Aviation Division detachment that operates it for missions in Southern Maryland and around the state such as Medevac, search and rescue and homeland security.

The hangar has been officially operational for some time but Saturday was the first time schedules of all involved permitted the event which was attended by fire, rescue and EMS personnel, state police officials, state legislators and county commissioners from St. Mary’s and Calvert.

Maryland State Police Aviation Division Commander Maj. Mark Gibbons said he had 160 employees, eleven helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft. “It is the employees of the aviation command who are the glue that keeps this operation together,” he said.

Gibbons said the state’s helicopter response system was unparalleled when compared to other states. He praised the volunteers and paid partners in fire, rescue and EMS. He called them “the frontline warriors.”

The state will be getting a replacement fleet of 11 new helicopters next year. Gibbons credited Del. John Bohanan for helping to save the current system. Bohanan said there was tremendous pressure to privatize the system in the wake of the helicopter crash in Prince George’s County in September of 2008 in which four people, including the pilot, were killed. Bohanan said the system prevailed and the legislature approved the entire new fleet. “We could not have done it without your persistent support,” Bohanan said.

State Police Sgt. David Svites introduced the other speakers at the event, Del John Wood, St. Mary’s County Commissioner President Francis “Jack” Russell and Calvert Commissioner President Susan Shaw. Deacon George L’Heureux then blessed the hangar and the helicopter and the ribbon was cut. Refreshments were provided by Hollywood VRS and tables by Hollywood VFD.

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