By Erin Smith
On Friday morning, friends, family members and co-workers gathered to say goodbye to a longtime member of the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office. Sgt. Rodney Hester, who has worked in law enforcement for 30 years, was honored with a retirement breakfast.
Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker opened the breakfast by acknowledging Captain Hester’s family for their commitment and sacrifices throughout his law enforcement career.
Chief Deputy Larry Guyton opened his remarks with relating how he saw a Bald Eagle swoop across the highway as he was traveling to work Friday morning. He related he was thinking about Hester’s retirement at the time.
Chief Deputy Guyton said, “I had never seen a Bald Eagle on that stretch of NC 87, ever. I took it as a sign and I got to thinking about the Bald Eagle and what it symbolizes to us and this country—honor, duty, country. All of those things and dedication and perseverance. When we as Americans, see the Bald Eagle, it means something to us just like the flag does. This man (Hester) epitomizes a lot of those virtues.”
Next, NC Representative William Brisson presented Sgt. Hester with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
“It is indeed a great honor for me to be here with you this morning to thank Rodney for his 30 years of service to the folks of this great state,” said Rep. Brisson.
Also, during the breakfast, Chief Deputy Guyton presented Sgt. Hester with his service revolver. Chief Deputy Guyton said Sgt. Hester began his law enforcement career in 1989 when he completed Basic Law Enforcement Training at Robeson Community College. Hester began his career at Whiteville Police Department, then he joined the Elizabethtown Police Department.
After serving at the Elizabethtown Police Department he then served with the Wilmington Police Department for several years. Hester joined the Bladenboro Police Department then joined the Bladen County Sheriff’s Office.
Currently, Sgt. Hester teaches classes in the Bladen Community College Associate Degree Criminal Justice program, as well as a defensive driving course. He is also serving as a Bladenboro Town Commissioner as well as serving as Vice-President of Boost the ‘Boro.
Captain Jeff Tyler stepped up to the podium next and presented Sgt. Hester with a plaque honoring him for 30 years of service.
He also presented Sgt. Hester with a print called “10-42” which was done by Bladen County Artist Kathy Bunn, wife of retired Sheriff Steve Bunn.
“It’s a personal gift from us to him,” said Capt. Tyler.
Sgt. Hester took a moment to recognize long-time friend Marc Sharpe, with whom he served in Wilmington. Sharpe, who went on to retire from the NC State Bureau of Investigation, shared stories about his friendship with Sgt. Hester. Sharpe presented Sgt. Hester with a set of photos dating back to their time serving on the Wilmington Police Department. Sharpe also presented Sgt. Hester with a certificate of recognition from the NC State Bureau of Investigation recognizing him for his service.
Sgt. Hester said, “This is bittersweet. I will miss everyone.”
Sheriff McVicker announced Sgt. Hester will return to the Sheriff’s Office in a part-time capacity in January.