Local firefighters head to Afghanistan with National Guard after Sept. 11 ceremo
But that’s exactly the case with Susanville Fire Department firefighters Matt Claiborne and Kalvn McFarland, who not only workas firefighters but are both helicopter mechanics in the National Guard.
Even more poignant is the fact that both men will be hoisting the flag at the SFD’s Sept. 11 memorial ceremony this Thursday, in front of the fire hall at 1505 Main St.
On Saturday, Sept. 13, Claiborne and McFarland will both be shipped with the National Guard’s 168 Medivac division to Afghanistan.
Claiborne and McFarland both came up the ranks through the fire department’s Explorer Post 2911. After graduating from the Explorers, McFarland worked his way up from a volunteer to a full-time paid position in the SFD, while Claiborne is currently working as a seasonal firefighter for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
SFD Captain Dan Weaver, who not only helps run the Explorer Post but has known Claiborne and McFarland for years, said he is very proud of the men they have become.
“They’ve demonstrated their leadership through the ranks,” Weaver said. “They started out here as Explorers, and have demonstrated their leadership skills as they’ve progressed. We’re all pretty proud of them, and we want them to be careful over there.”
Both McFarland and Claiborne joined the National Guard in November 2006. McFarland said they would be over in Afghanistan for about a year. He also said that while he wasn’t sure how long he would stay in the military, he was sure he would move back to an area like Susanville.
“I like smaller towns,” McFarland said. “I’m not too interested in big cities. I like to hunt, fish, ride quads. This is just more my kind of town.”
McFarland said the reason why he joined the National Guard as a helicopter mechanic was because it was the quickest way to advance toward helicopter pilot status. His said his long-term plans were to stay in the fire service and eventually become a captain. Ideally, he said he would like to combine his professions down the road, flying helicopters for a fire service.
The flag raising ceremony will be in front of the Susanville Fire Department at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11.
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