End of an era

By Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez on August 4, 2016

Firefighters from the 627th Civil Engineering Squadron memorialized their time serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 29, at a memorial ceremony held at the McChord Field Fire Station 105.

The ceremony commemorated the service of Air Force firefighters that have served here and concluded Air Force firefighter's service at JBLM as they are reassigned.

"This ceremony highlighted seventy years of amazing service and the legacy they leave behind," said Col. Leo Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "Many of our civilian firefighters are prior airmen and will carry on this legacy."

By the end of July 2017, all airmen firefighters currently stationed here will be assigned to new bases. The ceremony highlighted their service and payed tribute to all Air Force firefighters that have served.

"During my time as their commander, our Air Force firefighters have definitely demonstrated time and time again, that they are credible engineers, and the many missions we support don't just happen with us," said Lt. Col. Michael Francis, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "To our Air Force firefighters and their families: I will continue to lead and serve you through this newest change until the very last one of you leaves McChord."

Serving at a joint base, Air Force firefighters have received many unique training opportunities that provides them an additional depth of experience to take with them to their new assignments, said Francis.

"They have had amazing access to training opportunities and real-world experience not afforded to all Air Force firefighters at other installations," said Francis. "This not only makes them better as they respond to on-base medical emergencies, but also as they arrive on scene of motor vehicle accidents along the I-5 corridor to extricate victims and stabilize them for transport, sometimes for life-threatening injuries."        

Reflecting on the accomplishments of Air Force firefighters here, Francis spoke about the many awards and recognitions they've received serving as a joint base.

"Just recently, we finalized the 2015 awards year and once again the Air Force came out on top with Senior Airman Thomas Kaye winning the firefighter of the year award and Master Sergeant Jose Cardenas fire officer of the year award, both at the Department of the Army level," said Francis. "All of these individual accolades would not be possible without the mentorship and deliberate development made by the entire firefighting team - military and civilian - working together."

Celebrating past and present Air Force firefighters who've served here, the ceremony concluded in the unveiling of the Air Force firefighter's Legacy Monument.to be constructed on McChord Field. The monument will represent all the Air Force firefighters that have served here to memorialize their legacy. The monument will be a set of firefighter bunker gear, set in bronze and mounted atop a large rock. On the front of the monument will be a plaque that reads, "This memorial is dedicated to honor the legacy of the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force firefighters who served valiantly at McChord Field from 1946-2017." Below this it will display the Air Force firefighter's motto: "Serving with courage, integrity and pride."   

"I've worked at every station on JBLM and gained great experience from the civilians here through learning different aspects of firefighting," said Senior Airman James Salazar, 627th CES firefighter. "Most of the guys here are prior Air Force and it's good to know they are going to keep that tradition alive and morale high."