NORTH, SC (WIS) - Two friends are together again: Orangeburg County Deputy CJ Quinlan and 70-year-old Charles Williams.
It's a friendship literally forged in fire. On Monday, Quinlan rang the doorbell of William's North, SC apartment, and Williams welcomed him inside with a big hug and handshake.
"Well, it's a blessing, because God sent him to the house to save me," Williams said. "I know, because I believe in God, and I know that God is good."
Back in October, early one morning, Williams was asleep inside his Orangeburg home when flames consumed it. Deputy Quinlan just happened to be in the area on an unrelated call when he spotted the blaze.
"The only thing that woke him up was me beating on that trailer," said Deputy Quinlan.
"CJ was at the door, and he said, 'Come to me!' And I went to him, but I had to walk through the fire to get to him," added Williams.
For the deputy, it was an image with a lasting impression.
"It's something that's going to be burned in, literally no pun intended, going to be burned in my soul probably for the rest of my life," he said.
That October morning, Quinlan saved a life.
"He just hugged me and talked to me and tried to calm me," remembered Williams.
Last week, the South Carolina Sheriffs' Association awarded Quinlan with a Medal of Valor for the brave act. But now, he's received a different type of award - a reunion of hugs, handshakes, and thanks.
"The award aside, the medal aside, you know, it's great to be recognized, of course. It makes your job worth doing. It kind of answers why I'm doing this," Quinlan said. "But, the real reason we do it is because people need us, and it's good to see, for a change, that people know that there are police officers and deputy sheriffs and state troopers out there that are doing what is expected of them, and we do it because we love our communities, and we love our brothers and sisters on the left and the right of us, and there's no other motivation than that makes it worth doing."