The Eagle Has Landed

Written: Spring 1997

The Eagle’s Next Flight

Recently, a local TV news program has been running a series of shows about Firefighters. In one segment, they asked family’s members if they were nervous for their firemen due to the perils that are a part of this honorable career. Many of those interviewed spoke heartbreakingly of the apprehension they feel between the time that their family’s firefighter leaves for duty until he safely returns home.

My remembrances of those times are different. As a child, I certainly knew my dad was a fireman. Many days we’d pick my father up from work and, on special occasions, he’d even bring us for a tour of the firehouse. If we were lucky, we’d get to sit in the big, shiny red trucks and put on the oversized coats and helmets that seemed to weigh a thousand pounds and smelled of sweat and smoke.

We were young and naive but when our Dad left for work, we didn’t fear for his safety; we felt proud that our Dad was protecting our town.

In those days, children were often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” There were a few stock answers.

A doctor

A baseball player

A soldier

A ballerina

An astronaut

A policeman

President of the United States

Or a fireman

I thought it was extremely cool that my Dad had one of those “what do you want to be when you grow up” jobs. I never really understood the dangerous nature of his work even though were occasions in which he would jump from our car to fight a fire, to tend to someone who had suddenly fallen ill, or to treat a person injured in an accident. Even those occasions when he returned home with a hand full of stitches or a gimpy leg didn’t seem to make it clear to me that this was a dangerous profession.

Personally, it wasn’t until I was a young man that began to appreciate the fact that the gentle man drawing a big orange Mercurochrome heart on my sister’s scrapped knee may very well have spent the night before inside a fiery, smoky building. Or futilely attempting to revive a heart attack victim. Or rescuing terribly injured strangers from a horrible automobile accident. It was at that time that I began to wonder in amazement at his ability to be a loving family man while, at the same time, coping with the mental and physical burdens of a modern day firefighter

My dad is without a doubt a skillful, dedicated, brave, caring, and knowledgeable firefighter that has served his community proudly. But, he is so much more than that as well.

A devilish joker and a world class punster

A talented writer and a wonderful correspondent

An artist, a cartoonist, and a painter

A humanitarian and a volunteer

A musician and the life of the party

A class president and a toastmaster

A union man, a buddy to man’s best friend, and a reunion organizer

A hunter, a marksmen, a fisherman, and a boater

A son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew, a husband, a father, a father-in-law,

a soon-to-be grandfather, a neighbor, and a great friend

A furniture mover and a house sitter

A competitor, a gamesman, and a historian

An Easter bunny and Santa Claus

The mighty U.U., Billy, Will, and the Great White Hunter

A First Aid instructor and our neighborhood’s own 911 service

A gardener, a chef, and a Mr. Fix-it

An advisor, a safety consultant, and a soft shoulder.

And so much more.

He is brilliant, funny, talented, kind, thoughtful and he’s my role model. Why is my father also my role model?

When I was in elementary school, he drew cartoons on the wax paper covering my sandwiches.

He would bring bread and pastries to my widowed aunts each Sunday morning to brighten their day.

He’d tend to my grandparent’s yard on the weekends after a long, tough week of work.

He’d give my Mom a big hug every day when he came home from work.

He played football with us in the yard even after working his 2nd or 3rd part-time job.

“Sick day” is not in his vocabulary.

He always reminded us that there were no “holidays” for many nurses, doctors, policemen, firemen, soldiers and others. That while most of us ate holiday dinners and laughed with our family and friends, there were many people spending their holiday “on duty”.

Those are just some of the reasons that he’s my role model.

I’m sure that I can speak for everyone in my family in saying that he’s our hero. We love him dearly. We know that the Town of Manchester is losing a wonderfully caring and devoted employee that always gave 110% and took great pride in his performance. But, at the same time, we’re thrilled that we don’t have to share him anymore. He’s our Dad and he’s the best.



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Trey Whitaker

Former blogger, CrossFit gym owner, corporate manager, paratrooper, marathoner, youth sports coach and jujitsu black belt. Now happily retired in Maui.