CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A former Bradley County constable finally has received official recognition for the wounds he received in the line of duty more than 25 years ago.
On Monday at the Bradley County Sheriff's Office, Jim Goins was presented with a National First Responder Citation plaque commemorating the constable's injuries and dedication to service, including a violent October night in 1986 when he was hit with a shotgun blast.
"You don't think," said Goins. "You just do what you have to do."
Officials with Chapter 1945 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the USA gave Goins the plaque, even though the group typically limits presentations to incidents within the last 10 years, said Chris Cole, chapter commander. After reading Goins' story, "there was no question that Constable Goins deserves the recognition," he said.
"It's an honor to present Constable Goins with the citation," said Bruce Kendrick, a member of the local organization. "Every one of us in the chapter knows what it's like to have to face gunfire and be wounded."
On Oct. 28, 1986, Goins was left face down on the ground, bleeding and deafened, after being hit with a close range shotgun blast in his head and torso. The constable, 44 at the time, had been on the job for less than two months.
While Goins was en route to serve a warrant that evening, he heard a dispatch call regarding a man who was firing a shotgun at his home from the cover of nearby woods. Goins said he decided to assist deputies who were on their way, hoping he could defuse the situation before it escalated further.
Unfortunately, said Goins, the assailant, 28-year-old Ronald Carson, got the drop on him not long after he reached the scene. Goins said he did not draw his weapon for fear of intimidating Carson, who held a shotgun at his side and never said a word.
"When I said, 'I don't want to have to hurt you,' he fired," said Goins.
Goins said responding deputies saved his life, getting him away from Carson, who had retreated to his home but continued to fire at him. The deputies eventually subdued and arrested Carson.
The constable continued to serve Bradley County for another dozen years, and he described his work as a matter of service to the community.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.