by Victor Lopez
MIDLAND-- Ellery Stowell had no idea the surprise waiting for him Tuesday morning.
He thought he was going to see a new fire truck. The truth was, he was about to see his own pickup, in a whole new way.
It was a plan developed by his fellow firefighters, all done in the spirit of brotherhood.
According to Firefighter Mike Pulse, "The guys decided to get together and help him out and we're going to trick his truck out for him."
Stowell says he didn't even recognize the pickup that was parked just a few feet from him, "When I left town this weekend, this thing, the paint was chipped, it was all beat up. This didn't look like my truck."
A tragic motorcycle accident in 2002 left Stowell in the hospital for three months. Although he was almost paralyzed and unable to work, he stayed on with the fire department until his retirement three years ago.
"He was always one of the guys that did his own work on his own truck, always worked on his own stuff. Now, he's unable to do that. His pickup, over the last 7 years, has slowly gone down hill," Pulse explained.
Mike Pulse was one of the driving forces behind the project. Other firefighters pitched in cash while Midland businesses donated parts and labor for a $10,000, complete restoration, "It's the whole deal, top to bottom. And making sure he's got a roadworthy vehicle again."
A job that would normally have taken weeks to complete, was done in 4 days. "We've had this planned out for about a month. We knew he was leaving town this particular weekend, to go to a motocross race," Pulse explained.
This past weekend, they went to work. The truck was presented to Stowell at the Central Fire Station.
Obviously touched by the gift, Stowel praised his brother firemen, who he says visited and supported him after his accident, "It's just been proven to me. This is a brotherhood like you wouldn't believe. It's not an ordinary job. These guys have taken care of me all the way and it feels so good to be a part of a business like the fire service. They're fantastic people."
Pulse says this is nothing Stowell wouldn't have done himself, for someone else that needed it, "It's a brotherhood. That's just what firemen do. A lot of the guys are pretty proud and won't ask for help, but it was pretty obvious he needs some help. That's just what we do. We all stick together."
Stowell bought his GMC Sierra brand new in 1993. He said he's always taken care of it but now, plans to take even better care of it, to keep it on the road, until the day he dies.