The sun was shining brightly in New Milford last Friday.

Inside the town's new ambulance facility, spirits were just as bright as about 150 people were on hand to celebrate the promotion of three New Milford police officers.

It was all smiles and applause as a longtime sergeant and second-generation New Milford police officer, and two veteran patrol officers earned promotions.

Taking center stage were Lt. Larry Ash and sergeants Edward Hannan and James Dzamko.

This was the second such promotional ceremony since NMPD Chief Shawn Boyne had been sworn into office last October.

Among those in attendance were recently retired NMPD Chief Colin McCormack and former Chief Ted Adams.

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Lt. Larry Ash -- hired August 1987; promoted to sergeant in 1997. Served as a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant; a field training officer; firearms instructor; youth investigator; patrol supervisor; 13 letters of commendation; three medals of bravery; two lifesaving medals; one chief's citation. Sgt. Edward Hannan -- hired October 2001 Pursuing master's degree in criminal justice through the University of Cincinnati; Eagle Scout, field training officer, child safety seat technician, Special Olympics Torch Run coordinator; investigator; four letters of commendation and one chief's citation. Sgt. James Dzamko -- hired in 2001; served 15 years in the New Fairfield Police Department. Field training officer, child safety team coordinator, defensive tactics instructor, six letters of commendation.

Several other retired New Milford officers also attended, along with officers from area departments.

Ten-year-old Dillon Ash started off the ceremonies by offering the Pledge of Allegiance.

Patrick Maguire then performed "God Bless America'' after Chief Boyne had inadvertently introduced him as Patrick "McGuinness."

Decked out in traditional kilt, Mr. Maguire quipped the chief's error might simply have been a St. Patrick's Day-related slip of the tongue.

After the promotion ceremony, Dillon Ash's face continued to beam.

"I'm happy,'' said Dillon, who pronounced the day a "great one.'

He had been able to witness the promotion of his father, 24 years after Larry Ash had followed in the footsteps of his own father, Robert, a decorated, 17-year NMPD detective.

"Your father would be proud of you today,'' Chief Boyne said.

Ever since he was a boy, Lt. Ash said he had wanted to be a policeman.

"It's been the quickest 24 years of my life; it's been that much fun,'' he said. "We have really top-shelf guys and gals who are dedicated to this community. I see nothing but good things ahead.''

Sgt. Hannan and Sgt. Dzamko, who each joined the police force in 2001, agreed.

"I'm excited. Everything is just firing on all cylinders,'' said Sgt. Hannan, whose wife, Charisa, is expecting their second child.

Sgt. Dzamko, who, before being hired in New Milford, spent 15 years with the New Fairfield Police Department, said he welcomes the "new chapter in my career.''

He said he relishes the chance to play his new role as a "quarterback''-- one of the department's eight sergeants.

"We are all responsible for one another, and it is essential that we all share a collective sense of honor, mission and values,'' NMPD Capt. Mark Buckley said.

"Remember, leadership is not what leaders do," he said. "Rather, leadership is what leaders and followers do together for the collective good.''