Reserve fire chief retires with 24 years of service

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexa Culbert
  • 434 ARW Public Affairs
Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind.— One chapter ends, and another begins for the 434th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief as he completed the end of watch with family and friends during his retirement ceremony held here, April 24, 2021.

While Chief Master Sgt. Aaron Dehner will no longer don the uniform, his service to the base is long from over. Dehner will continue to serve the Grissom Fire Department in his civilian capacity as lead firefighter.

Dehner's Air Force story first began in 1997 when he sought to make a change in his life.

A Bunker Hill native, the chief had a lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter and at the age of 24, he set out to make it happen. After reaching out to local fire departments, he decided the Air Force Reserve was the best route to earn his fire badge.

The firefighter admitted that he never intended to serve past his first contract, but he realized that, on his own, he would never have the same experiences he had through the Air Force.

There was the team aspect. "I stayed for the people," he said.

"Team Grissom is, in my opinion, and of course I'm biased, the best team to be on," said Dehner. "The legacy we have here and to be a part of that is just awesome."

Whether he's on the truck or behind a desk, Dehner's dedication to his team and the job has been evident through his loyalty to the Air Force core values.

"I feel like I've gotten comfortable as a chief and when you look at the core values, my integrity is still there," he said. "There is still excellence that I can do, but I don't have the time. I'm struggling with the service before self and if you can't meet all three, then it's time to go. It's hard for me, but I have to give it up for the service."

As his Air Force career comes to a close, the Grissom firefighter said that he had felt sadness, relief and nostalgia. However, as he's nearing the end, he mostly feels anxious.

Anxious to finish it out, close the book, and begin a new chapter.

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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