John passed away on August 29, 2019, after a two-year battle with 9/11-related cancer.
John joined the Occoquan, Woodbridge, Lorton Volunteer Fire Department (OWL) in 1979, at age 18. He became an active member, beginning a lifelong journey with OWL and pointing him toward his professional career as a firefighter. At OWL, he served as a firefighter, EMT, driver/operator, fire sergeant, fire lieutenant, board member, and station vice president. He attained Life Member status in 1999 and was respected as the classic “crusty” senior man, a firefighter’s firefighter. In 1998, he received the prestigious Betty Limerick Award for extended service to the department.
Active in IAFF Local 3217, John stood up not only for his own convictions, but shoulder to shoulder for his fellow union brethren when he saw injustices being perpetrated. He was a true leader in every sense of the word.
John began his career as a firefighter on July 8, 1985, with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority at Washington Dulles International Airport. John quickly adapted to his role as a firefighter/EMT while establishing heartfelt friendships with his shift coworkers. His skill set and abilities were recognized by his peers and supervisors. John never shied away from the challenges of the job. He was at the forefront of many incidents, with his aggressive approach in mitigating the situation.
John’s largest attributes were his caring personality towards his coworkers and his ability to train others. He prided himself on working with new employees on probationary development and career advancement. He had a strong knowledge of airport operations, aircraft, aircraft firefighting, and apparatus operations. John had the personality to get the best out of an individual through training and everyday discussions. He was promoted to technician and served as a team leader and shift trainer. He developed training programs and implemented new Heavy Tactical Rescue (HTR) techniques, oversaw the development of new personnel, and mentored team members in managing and mitigating these types of incidents. John was promoted and excelled in the position of shift commander support technician. His attention to detail, daily staffing, apparatus movement, and emergency incident management made him the standard for others to follow.
John loved and enjoyed the fire service and was respected and loved by his coworkers and supervisors. He was respectful and kind, strong tempered and opinionated when needed, but he delivered those emotions in a caring way. John was a mentor, a brother, a friend to all, and loved by so many.