Middleton Rural Fire District & Eagle Fire Department
I joined the US Marine Corps in September 2001 and was honorably discharged as a Sergeant in October 2005. I was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; the Horn of Africa; Afghanistan and Iraq in the 4 years I served. As an infantry squad leader in a rifle platoon, I led Marines in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Although the Marines in my command all came home, I did lose 7 brothers in combat, and 3 more brothers that made it back to the States, but struggled with coming home.
I too was struggling. Three years ago, I had just about given up hope in being able reintegrate with society, and pretty much stopped believing I would ever become a fireman. But with Middleton Fire taking me on as a volunteer, then Eagle Fire taking me on, as well as Boise Fire and Pocatello Fire showing interest in me, these things have been encouraging and have helped me regain hope and the confidence I feel I need to continue working hard in order to be ready when that full-time job offer comes.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a tough thing to battle, but the fire service offers a band of brothers similar to those I had in the Marines, which has helped me tremendously and I now know where it is I belong in the civilian sector. I can be a fireman, I will be a fireman.
I first heard about Paddy Brown on a TV show called Rescue Me. He was referenced when the firefighters on the show performed a series of window rescues. Since joining the Fire Service, I have heard more and more about Paddy Brown, from many people, and recently, I did some pretty extensive online research, learning everything I can about him through YouTube videos, his website, and other outlets. I am in awe of the man's story and his accomplishments. I think that just about every one in the service today that's worth their salt wanted to be a fireman to be like Paddy Brown, regardless of whether they knew who he was or not. The way I see it, Paddy Brown set out to be the firefighter that people think of when they hear the word FIREFIGHTER, and actually achieved it. Before him there might have been a template, but since him, that template has a name.
Going forward, Paddy Brown's leadership and example let's us all know that although the mark is high, it is attainable. It serves as a standard for us to gauge ourselves, making it clear to us when we don't quite measure up, and making it apparent to the rest of us when someone is working to follow him. It's a pretty great thing that I have come to recognize; in my short time as a firefighter, I have had the privilege of working with various men that strive to emulate him, which lets me know that the Fire Service is in good hands, especially because through these men, there have been many times that I feel I have actually met him.
It is said that Paddy Brown is gone but never forgotten. I disagree. I don't think Paddy Brown is gone. And he's never forgotten because he never left. His spirit has been leading us since those towers fell. And just like his last words to dispatch that morning were "Thank You." We echo that sentiment today to him, for giving us a direction to head: UP.