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Academy firefighters recognized for Waldo Canyon fire efforts Elizabeth Copan

Col. Michael Addison (far left) speaks with firefighters during an award presentation ceremony at the Air Force Academy's Fire Station 3 Dec. 19, 2012. More than 50 firefighters were recognized with Air Force Achievement Medals or Air Force Civilian Achievement Awards for their efforts in containing the Waldo Canyon fire, which burned 12 acres of the Academy in June but did not cause any injuries or destroy any structures. Addison is the 10th Mission Support Group commander. (U.S. Air Force photo/Elizabeth Andrews)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - More than 50 firefighters with the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron here received Air Force Achievement Medals and Air Force Civilian Achievement Awards in a pair of ceremonies Dec. 19-20 for their efforts in containing the Waldo Canyon fire, which burned 12 acres on the Air Force Academy in June but did not destroy any structures on base.

The 18,247-acre fire was the most destructive in Colorado history, killing two and destroying nearly 350 homes in the city of Colorado Springs while damaging more than 450 others.

Firefighters' heroic efforts kept the fire from breaking through containment lines on several occasions, said 10th Mission Support Group Commander Col. Michael Addison.

"That fire was a pretty close-run thing," Addison said. "It was a real battle." Ground crews directed airdrops of fire retardant from C-130 aircraft equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems.

Had the Waldo Canyon Fire broken through containment lines, "it would almost certainly have consumed everything in Pine Valley," Addison said. "But no structures were destroyed, no one got hurt, and that was due to the courage and skill of our firefighters.

"I'm very proud of them. They prove day in and day out why they are the best fire department in the Air Force," Addison added.

Andrea Caraway, a civilian firefighter, said she's proud of the entire department.

"I'm proud that we were able to help our local community," she said.

Airman 1st Class Taylor King, a military firefighter, said he was grateful for the support firefighters received in turn from the local community, which donated food, clothing and other items.

"It was very generous," he said. "Everywhere I went, everyone was crazy about firefighters. There was overwhelming support."

The Waldo Canyon fire started in the Pike National Forest June 23. By June 24, the 306th Flying Training Group had converted part of the airfield into a staging area for helicopters helping fight the fire. MAFFS-equipped C-130s with the 302nd Airlift Wing were brought in June 25 to assist.

The following day was the most destructive, as 65-mph winds and hot, dry weather created a horizontal "fire vortex" that rolled through Queens Canyon on the west side of Colorado Springs and into Mountain Shadows. That evening, 10th Air Base Commander Col. Tim Gibson evacuated base housing residents.

The Academy reached out to help the community after the fire. Cadets, some of whom had arrived for inprocessing even as smoke from the still-active fire billowed over the Colorado Springs, helped clear burned and dead wood from affected areas in August.

Investigators revealed in September that the fire was human-caused but that they had no information regarding the intent. The fire remains under investigation.

Receiving medals were:

Hans Barkley
Patrick Kraft
Brian Bell
Senior Airman Tylor Lamberson
Senior Airman Donnie Brown
Airman 1st Class Xavier Leal
Airman 1st Class Sulaiman Burns
Tech. Sgt. Jason Linta
Andrea Caraway
Reid Lohse
Mark Caraway
Craig Long
David Caulfield
Staff Sgt. Nicole Longwell
Eric Chess
Mike Mater
Martin Clinton
Dan McAuliffe
Senior Airman Francis Cooper
Anthony McMurty
Airman 1st Class Everett Cowart
Staff Sgt. Barry McNeil
Roy Dalton
Phil Messina
John Dannen
Jonathan Milam
Tommy Disario
Tyler Moran
Airman 1st Class Blake Dwyer
Ryan Moriarty
Airman 1st Class Tieghan Fitzpatrick
Airman Blake Nelson
Senior Airman Jacob Frey
Elaine Perkins
Airman 1st Class Daniel Garcia
Travis Perkins
William Gates
Ernst Piercy
Lance Gore
Ron Prettyman
Master Sgt. Jeffery Hackworth
Shawne Ragsdale
Wesley Harrison
Senior Airman Steven Rousseau
Ken Helgerson
Staff Sgt. John Salinas
Patrick Holt
Jason Smith
Senior Airman Sean Kaufmann
Charles Surrat
Airman 1st Class Tylor King
Mike Trenker
Kenneth Kotcher
Joe Wright


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This work, Academy firefighters recognized for Waldo Canyon fire efforts, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:12.20.2012

Date Posted:01.14.2013 14:05



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