BONNEY LAKE, Wash. – The Pacific Northwest is graced with scenic outdoors from North and South from the Canadian border to Oregon, and West to East from the Pacific Coast to the Cascades. This often brings crowds of people to the outdoors, year-round, good weather or bad. Inevitably, some of these persons get lost or hurt and require assistance.
While the National Guard is often called upon in response to large scale events, it is less known that for especially dangerous search and rescue missions, Reserve Component units are often reached out to by local law enforcement agencies for assistance. One such unit, the Air Force Reserve’s 304th Rescue Squadron, has been called out on short notice for such missions as conducting high altitude missions rescuing climbers from Mount Rainier, to finding a missing man, his 7-year-old daughter and their dog in Mt. Hood National Forest.
With a significant number of Reservists in the 304th Rescue Squadron being first responders in their civilian jobs, responding to these important missions and having a non-traditional military schedule, can result in providing employers with short notice. However, employers, such as East Pierce Fire & Rescue, continue to provide support for their employees who serve in the Reserve Components so that their employees can continue serving their Country without having to worry about their civilian employment.
In recognition of that support, Troy Sterrenburg, lieutenant firefighter/EMT at East Pierce Fire & Rescue, was presented with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award, after being nominated by Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Andy Craig, who works as a firefighter/EMT for East Pierce Fire & Rescue in his civilian employment.
“I cannot speak more highly of the support I have received from my supervisor while I juggle military obligations and full-time career obligations for the fire department I work for,” said Craig.
“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees who have answered their nation’s call to serve,” Ohad Lowy, ESGR south sound co-chair who presented the award in a virtual presentation. “Supportive supervisors are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”
“Troy has always been great with last minute notifications, and I wanted to show my appreciation,” said Craig. “This allows me to support my community and help people while working with amazing people at East Pierce Fire & Rescue, and also serve this County will working with amazing people in the Air Force Reserve.”
“National Guard and Reserve members bring tremendous skills and capabilities to our workforce, and employer support for their military service is critical to maintaining the strength of our Guard and Reserve units,” said Lowy. “By valuing the military service of their Guard and Reserve employees, employers are directly supporting the readiness and retention of our All-Volunteer Force, and our national defense.”
“I could not be more proud of Troy and the other [firefighters] who serve,” said Sterrenburg. “I am blown away by their dedication to the department and Country. This humbling and came out of nowhere. It is my pleasure to do my small pierce to support Andy.”
ESGR is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for service members in the National Guard and Reserve through outreach, recognition, and educational opportunities that increase awareness of applicable laws. ESGR also provides assistance in resolving conflicts between Service members and their employers.
For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call (800) 336-4590 or visit www.ESGR.mil/WA.
Pictured: Troy Sterrenburg (left), lieutenant firefighter/EMT at East Pierce Fire & Rescue, was presented with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award, after being nominated by Air Force Reserve Tech. Sgt. Andy Craig (right), who works as a firefighter/EMT for East Pierce Fire & Rescue in his civilian employment.