BEAVERCREEK — A teacher, firefighter and police officer were honored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Beavercreek Memorial Post 8312 Jan. 14.
Award recipients at the Community Awards Ceremony were: Jennifer McGowan, VFW Teacher of the Year; Ryan Zimmerman, VFW Firefighter of the Year; Sgt. Scott Spangler, VFW Officer of the Year.
The educator award recognizes teachers for their commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students.
McGowan is an intervention specialist at Smith Middle School in the Vandalia-Butler School District. Her husband, Air Force Lt. Colonel Robert McGowan, recently returned from a one year deployment but was sent to Iraq earlier this week. In a letter nominating his wife, he wrote about how McGowan works to create a classroom environment to set her students up for success and independence.
“Jen is always the first to organize a way to give back to others,” the letter reads. “Last year she helped organize a Veterans’ Day collection for our deployed troops … Jen also took on the task of ensuring each building in the school district has an American flag which was flown in a military aircraft in a combat zone.”
McGowan is now competing at the state level for the same award.
“I cherish the fact that my husband Rob nominated me as he is a selfless man who serves our country,” McGowan said at the banquet. “I chose to go into education to make a difference in the life of children just as my teachers did for me.”
Both the firefighter and law enforcement award honors men and women who demonstrate character, dedication to country, understanding of the plight of others, and devotion to safety.
After serving in the Civil Air Patrol, Zimmerman enlisted in the Air Force and volunteered for a combat tour in Kuwait.
“During that tour, he was a first-responder to an F-18 mishap and he was responsible for the rescue of both pilots from that cockpit,” Lt. Col. Dennis Slowinski, junior vice commander of Post 8312, said.
Zimmerman was hired on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at the fire department in 2001. He earned his paramedic certification in 2004 and responds to all types of medical calls on base and in the local community — and once delivered a baby. Zimmerman has served members of the International Association of Fire Fighters, is involved in peer support for the fire department, and recently completed suicide prevention training.
“He’s an incredible individual dedicated to his nation, his job and his family,” Slowinski said. “We are very proud that Ryan is our nominee and winner for Beavercreek.”
Zimmerman is competing at the state level for the same award.
In his 24 years of service to Beavercreek Police Department, Spangler has served in various roles, including as supervisor in several departments and programs, SWAT team leader, and Emergency Vehicle Operations Course Instructor. Spangler, a lifelong Beavercreek resident, was promoted to sargeant in 2011.
In his off-duty time, Spangler instructs an advanced driving course at Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy and a basic unit course at Sinclair Community College.
“As a lifelong Beavercreek resident, Scott has dedicated his career to serving the community,” Slowinski said.
Spangler put in countless hours assisting residents in the aftermath of the 2019 Memorial Day tornadoes, earning a meritory service award for his actions.
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