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Different Blue Uniform, Same Reserve Firefighter
by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard - September 24, 2016

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American Pride: Poems Honoring America and Her Patriots! by David G. Bancroft

“I did five years active duty in the U.S. Navy and then I spent a year or two in limbo until I got this great job as a Department of Defense firefighter,” said Moralez. “I worked with a couple of guys who were in the 512th Civil Engineer Squadron and they explained all the benefits that the Air Force Reserve has to offer for the fire protection career field.

Moralez was an aviation boatsmans handler Third Class from 2005-2010. All five of his years were spent on the U.S.S Enterprise traveling around the Pacific Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. He also performed two combat deployments; one tour each for Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

August 19, 2016 - Senior Airman Ricky Moralez, 512th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, dons his mask before extinguishing a fuel fire during exercise Patriot Warrior at Sparta/Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Patriot Warrior allows Air Reserve fire fighting units from throughout the U.S. to train together and learn from professionals throughout the career field in a deployment-style environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard)
August 19, 2016 - Senior Airman Ricky Moralez, 512th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, dons his mask before extinguishing a fuel fire during exercise Patriot Warrior at Sparta/Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Patriot Warrior allows Air Reserve fire fighting units from throughout the U.S. to train together and learn from professionals throughout the career field in a deployment-style environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard)

“The Navy cared about me, but I just felt like a number rather than a person,” said Moralez. “I worked on the flight deck as part of the crash crew and as a firefighter. I trained on aircraft crashes, shutdowns and worked in that hot firefighting uniform. That part transferred over.”

Moralez's crew chief who is also prior-service, Tech. Sgt. Joab Mejia, spent 10 years serving in the Army before joining the Air Force. He is also a combat-veteran with two Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom deployments.

“I can empathize with Moralez and try to give him an idea of what's to come,” said Mejia. “I like having new guys because when somebody comes in new, they need to learn a whole different environment. I accept the challenge happily.”

“It's great to be in an environment when people are willing to help you transfer and when other people are also prior service,” said Moralez. “Mejia is a great crew chief because he understands the change-over.”

The Air Force Reserve firefighting position also helps Moralez with his civilian employment. Moralez is a full-time firefighter for the DOD at Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia.

“All of my certifications I get at Dover Air Force Base directly fall into my DOD job, so it's a win-win,” said Moralez. “What I do in the DOD also transfers over to the Air Force, so it works both ways. One of my chiefs at the 512th CES is also my boss in the DOD, so he's shown me the ropes and set me on the right path as well.”

Moralez has been in the 512th CES for two years and his work ethic and experience aren't going unnoticed by his wingmen.

August 19, 2016 - Firefighters throughout the Air Force Reserve and Army watch a fuel-fire build in size before extinguishing it during exercise Patriot Warrior at Sparta/Fort McCoy Airport, Wisconsin. Patriot Warrior allows Air Reserve fire fighting units from throughout the U.S. to train and learn from professionals throughout the career field in a deployment-style environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard)
August 19, 2016 - Firefighters throughout the Air Force Reserve and Army watch a fuel-fire build in size before extinguishing it during exercise Patriot Warrior at Sparta/Fort McCoy Airport, Wisconsin. Patriot Warrior allows Air Reserve fire fighting units from throughout the U.S. to train and learn from professionals throughout the career field in a deployment-style environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard)

“He's motivated,” said Mejia. “I don't have to tell him anything, he starts doing things on his own and if he has questions he approaches me. He has the maturity from not only age, but also prior service. It's a blessing to have somebody like that working in my crew.”

Although Moralez has served in two branches of service, he says he will stay in the Air Force “blues” for the rest of his career.

“The Air Force treats me like a person and not like a number,” said Moralez. “I love my job here and I plan on finishing my career in this unit.”

By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nathan Rivard
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2016

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