Motorists driving past Hambone Way in Wesley Chapel may do a double take.
Is that road really named Hambone Way?
Indeed, it is.
The road was christened during a ceremony on Feb. 20 with a moniker that pays tribute to William “Hambone” Hammond, a firefighter who has worked for 15 years at Station 13, in the heart of an area known as Angus Valley.
The road bears Hammond’s nickname — the only name that many firefighters and paramedics know him by.
During the formal naming ceremony, Hammond was clearly touched by the gesture.
As he looked out into the crowd, he saw his mother, Betty Hammond, his brother, Mark, and other friends and relatives.
Members of the Greater Wesley Chamber of Commerce were there, too, to do a ribbon cutting.
And, Hammond saw scores of his other ‘family,’ too, the men and women who work for Pasco County Fire Rescue.
As he accepted the honor, he kept calling out names of people in the crowd — and even some that weren’t there — to thank them for the lessons they’ve taught him and the loyalty they’ve shown.
“I don’t feel worthy. You all are more worthy than me,” said Hammond, who is still an active firefighter.
“I do love that my name is up there — my nickname — and it does belong here in the valley,” he said. “I had plenty of opportunities to go to other stations. I’m part of Wesley Chapel, part of Angus Valley. It’s where my heart is.”
Firefighter/paramedic J.J. Martinez, who helped organize the event, said Hammond deserves recognition for his dedicated service.
“When one hears this nickname, you would think of a guy on Harley, riding down the road with a long beard,” Martinez said, during the naming ceremony.
But when employees at Station 13 hear Hambone’s name, “we see a dedicated, hardworking firefighter that will do anything for his fellow firefighters,” Martinez added.
For some people, “Hambone was a firefighter who was there, in their time of need,” Martinez said.
“I came to serve this area six years ago, at Station 13, and I’m reminded every day what being a true firefighter is all about, because of my partner, Hambone,” Martinez added.
“Many times in this job, we lose sight of what is most important and that is the people we help every day,” he said.
Another speaker, Captain David Garofalo, said “when I think of Hambone, one word immediately comes to mind, and that is ‘genuine.’ That man never ceases to amaze me. He takes friendships to a whole new level.”
“This street has been the no-name street for many years, and Hambone has been a part of this community for almost 15 years,” Garofalo said, so it seems fitting to name the street in Hambone’s honor.
“So many times, buildings, statues and streets are named posthumously after someone in their memory. I am glad, that as we name this today, that Hambone will be able to know how much he is appreciated and be a part of this community for many more years to come,” Garofalo said.
Pasco Rescue Fire Chief Scott Cassin congratulated Hammond.
“There couldn’t be a better person to have their name on that sign,” Cassin said.
On the drive over to the ceremony, Cassin said he talking about how streets get their names.
“It’s usually the developer that will put names up, and they name them after their kids. They’ll name them after presidents, or they’ll have some sort of naming convention.
“This is one sign that I know every time we drive by it, we’ll know how that street was named.”
Published February 25, 2015