Devoted husband, father, brother, friend, and dedicated firefighter, John C. “Mac” McDonald was rarely called by his first name. Known as a “fireman’s fireman,” he was called, “Johnny Mac,” “Mac,” or “Mac Daddy.”
Mac began his 40 years in the fire service as a volunteer with Stafford Volunteer Fire Department, Company 2, after serving in the United States Navy. It was there that he coined the station’s slogan, “Dedicated 2 Excellence,” was elected and served as fire chief on more than one occasion, and became a life member of the department. Serving in every operational capacity, over the decades as a federal firefighter he rose through the ranks at the Naval District of Washington Fire Department to become battalion chief in 2009, the position he held at the time of his passing.
One of Mac’s key traits as a leader was his ability to remain calm in all situations. “When your leader is calm, so too are the firefighters,” colleagues recalled. He was known throughout the fire and rescue community as “one heck of an instructor, he just had that ability to teach others.” Credited with saving over seven lives, Mac was recognized, along with his brethren, for five of those saves with the 2007 Firefighter Heroism of the Year Team Award. Gifted with a calming nature, unwavering love, support and friendship, Mac gave all of himself to the very end.
His faith in God and energy for life were boundless. He was hard working, hard playing, and nothing stopped his enthusiasm. Outside of the fire house, Mac was often found spending time with his family, taking his motorcycle and the love of his life, his wife Teresa, down the coast for a getaway, riding with comrades of Fire and Iron 161 MC where he served as vice president and was a charter member, pitching his joint business venture, The Beer Lasso, with eldest daughter Katie, or cheering on youngest daughter Ashley in her endeavors. A humble man, jokester, mentor, role model, hero, and always the life of the party, his selfless dedication to serving others did not end outside of the firehouse. He often helped others on family outings and anytime he noticed someone in need. Mac remains deeply missed by the many lives he touched.
He often spoke of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the importance of its meaning. Having his name etched in stone at a place he held in high regard, he would have been genuinely touched to receive such an honor. While Mac is no longer physically present in this life, his legacy remains in all who had the pleasure to know him and in the many lives he touched while here on earth.