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Training Chief Johnston retires after 31 years
[December 31, 2012]

Training Chief Johnston retires after 31 years

Dec 31, 2012 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- On July 2, 1981 Darrell Johnston started with Odessa Fire/Rescue and "like a flash of light" -- that lasted 31 years -- Johnston was celebrating his retirement Monday. He leaves OFR as a Training Chief and the department's "Educator of the Year." His fellow firefighters, of which many of the young generation he helped to train, joined several retired OFR firefighters to celebrate with Johnston on Monday afternoon at the Second Street Station with a few kind words, a few moments of ribbing on the 56-year-old Johnston and, of course, cake and ice cream.

"I got mixed emotions about it," Johnston said, his wife of 14 years Karen standing beside him before the party. "It's been a real great job and big part of my life." Fire Chief Roger Boyd complimented Johnston on his receptiveness at taking on new challenges over his long career and stepping outside his comfort zone to become a stellar training chief.

"He's a trusted friend and colleague, and a great asset and good friend to me," Boyd said.

After ceremoniously receiving his firefighter's helmet -- to which someone yelled out, "why is his helmet so clean and pretty " -- his badge, his retired firefighter ID and a check from the benevolence fund, Johnston said he thought this day might never come.

"But I can't think of a better place in the world to work," he said.

His colleagues wished him well in retirement and many commented around the party how much he will be missed.

Capt. Bill Gambell couldn't let Johnston walk away that easy though.

"We're gonna miss you. It's kind of like dropping a sledge hammer on your toe," he said.

Johnston and his wife plan to spend more time with their four daughters and four grandchildren and there will be a little more time to dedicate to restoring Johnston's Model A, Model T and antique fire truck as well.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said.

___ (c)2012 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) Visit the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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