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Fast forward to Covid-19’s devastating aftermath that took its toll on mom-and-pop tow businesses. With Covid (prayerfully) on its way out, Mr. Buell is said to be awarded at this year’s memorial.

WORDS TO THE WISE

Fact: Ours is an incredibly dangerous industry. Entering flood waters to conduct water rescue is a treacherous process. I’ve covered water recovery safety several times in Towman, only to recommend towers stay out of the water for obvious reasons. I remind all responders that “fast tumbling water can turn a simple rescue into an untimely fatality.” In an unbelievably odd bit of tragedy, John Buell’s brother, David, drowned in a 1930 swimming accident also on the Potomac River. I know that we towers bear a rescuer’s heart; yet I pray you will err on the side of safety. I dedicate this narrative in memory of tow owner, operator and volunteer fire chief, John Elliott Buell. This research was a long and drawn-out project, but one I’ll share with the purpose of adding to our industry’s history. I’m honored Mr. Buell is finally being awarded for his unselfish sacrifice.

It’s my mission to see John Buell’s name added to the Wall of the Fallen; bestowing him the highest award our industry can award a fallen operator.

Author’s Note: Special thanks to Jennifer Abbott and Sara Hedlund, both researchers at Maryland’s (Montgomery) Historical Society, and Mrs. Donna Miller, for their participation and contributions in the development and research for this article. Without their commitment and willingness to research, this narrative would never have been possible.

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American Towman Magazine - September 2021  

American Towman Magazine - September 2021  

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