By Joshua Winata

The Cove Herald

At a quiet ceremony on Tuesday, dreams were fulfilled and heroes were born as the Copperas Cove Fire Department swore in four new firefighters and promoted three employees.

“I always envy you that are just arriving in the fire service because what a great place to work, and you’ve got your entire career ahead of you,” Fire Chief Dennis Haas told his employees at the ceremony in the Copperas Cove Public Library. “It is truly a great career to be in, and there’s not a doubt in my mind that there won’t ever be a day of regret for your choice.”

Witnessed by proud friends and family, the officers swore to serve the city with integrity and courage. The firefighters also received badges, pinned on to their uniforms by one of the fire chiefs or a loved one of their choice.

Cindy Harris attended the ceremony with her daughter and mother, Patricia Hicks, to pin a badge on her brother, newly promoted Lt. Robert Hicks.

“We’re very proud of him, and we’re glad that he followed his dreams,” Harris said.

Hicks joined the Copperas Cove Fire Department in December 2003 and completed all the requirements for lieutenant, including rigorous exams and demonstrations, last month.

“I feel great,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to advance through the ranks and help pass on the knowledge I’ve learned to younger firefighters who have just started.”

Cory Hampton is one of those firefighters who is just beginning his career after an intensive 6-month training. Becoming a firefighter is a lifelong dream for Hampton, who is following in the footsteps of his father, Douglas Foster of the Killeen Fire Department.

“This is something I’ve always wanted,” Hampton said. “You’ve got to push for your dreams, and once you achieve it like I did today, you can’t even describe it, really.”

Hampton received his pin from his father, who helped train Hampton and several other members of the Copperas Cove Fire Department in the fire training academy.

“In all honesty, I’m really proud of him, and I’m happy he likes the job, but as a parent, I would like to see him do something different,” Foster admitted. “That’s the parent in me, but all in all, I’m really proud of him. He’s done well for himself.”

Despite a deep admiration for his father, Hampton said he chose to join to Copperas Cove Fire Department to ensure that he could grow professionally free from the shadow of his dad’s success. To earn his place at the table, Hampton worked at retail shops prior to becoming a firefighter and worked at Gamestop while going through training.

“You see firefighters and a lot of people get a cliche going, like you have to be a certain type of person,” Hampton said. “I just wanted to be different. I just wanted to be myself.”

Carlos Mariduena, who was also sworn in as a new firefighter with the deparment, had plenty of support from his family. His wife Evelyn pinned on his badge with the boisterous assistance of their children Angelina, 7, Carlos, 5, and Alyssa, 4.

“I like him working for the city of Copperas Cove. It’s a good city. It’s growing,” Evelyn said.

“And he gets to drive a big, red truck,” she added with a laugh.

New employees honored at the ceremony were Hampton, Mariduena, Cody Bible and Gary Young. Employees being promoted were Hicks and firefighter and paramedic Kellie Mozek to lieutenant and Captain Gary Young to training and emergency medical services chief, and Lt. James Bednar received a lateral transfer.

Contact Joshua Winata at or call (254) 547-6481

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