NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Those who answered the call to protect their communities and paid with their lives or bodily injury were honored by state officials including Governor Bill Lee in a ceremony on Wednesday.

Gov. Lee, State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey joined the Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Jeff Long and Deputy Commissioner of Homeland Security Greg Mays to honor and remember Tennessee’s outstanding first responders during the 2023 Three Stars of Tennessee Award and First Responder Ceremony. It was held in Nashville.

The Three Stars of Tennessee Award recognizes law enforcement, firefighters and medical first responders who were killed or suffered a career-ending injury in the line of duty.

Among the six recipients of the Three Stars of Tennessee Award was Capt. Roy Sewell Jr. of the North Tazewell Volunteer Fire Department. Sewell died on Monday, April 24, 2023 while responding to a call for a child’s injury in an ATV crash in Claiborne County. Sewell had been driving a fire engine to set up a landing zone for the emergency medical helicopter for the child when the vehicle went off the road and rolled down an embankment, according to authorities.

“Volunteer firefighter Sewell was a tremendous asset to the fire department as well as to the community he supported,” Commissioner Greg Mays shared during the ceremony. “The last thing he reported over the radio was, ‘Where do you need me?’ This phrase was something that Volunteer firefighter Sewell said on a regular basis. He continually went above and beyond the call of duty to assist his family, coworkers and community. Whether it was volunteering at the fire department, or working at a local Walmart, he loved life and enjoyed the small things and he was always singing regardless of where he was. He was the best dad and husband, and so proud of his family. He loved spending time with his wife and young daughter, and at the time of his death, he looked forward to the birth of his son. Little did he know that his son would look a lot like him. He is missed more than words can say, and will always be remembered in Claiborne County.”

Sewell’s widow, while carrying their baby son born after his death, accepted the award on his behalf.

“The safety and freedom we enjoy as Tennesseans is possible because of the law enforcement and first responders who serve and protect communities across our great state,” said Commissioner Jeff Long. “Today, we grieve with the loved ones of the Three Stars of Tennessee Awardees and honor their sacrifice. We also celebrate the exceptional service the Three Stars of Tennessee Award and First Responder recipients gave their fellow Tennesseans.”

The Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security shared a list of all of this year’s recipients:

Three Stars of Tennessee Award Honorees:

Volunteer Firefighter Roy Lee Sewell, Jr.
North Tazewell Volunteer Fire Department

Deputy Bradley Alan Miller
Maury County Sheriff’s Department

Officer Geoffrey Bernard Redd
Memphis Police Department

Lieutenant Jeffrey Norman
Memphis Fire Department

Driver David Pleasant
City of Memphis Fire Department

Sergeant Harold Lee Russell II
Tennessee Highway Patrol

First Responder Recipients:

Volunteer Chaplain Adam Linsenbigler
Seymour Volunteer Fire Department

Detective Zachary Plese, Detective Ryan Cagle, Detective Michael Collazo, Officer Rex Englebert and Sergeant Jeff Mathes
Metropolitan Nashville Police Department

Nashville Fire Department

Trooper Randy Vigus
Tennessee Highway Patrol

Trooper Ashton Cotner
Tennessee Highway Patrol

Special Agent Robert Schlafly
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

Special Agent Michael Gamber
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

According to the state, following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Sen. Massey spearheaded the effort to develop a special statewide recognition for public servants who were killed or suffered a career-ending injury in the line of duty. The Tennessee law (TCA 4-1-501) creating the Three Stars of Tennessee Award passed during the 2014 legislative session.