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Minnesota National Guard
148th Firefighter named Air Guards best

11/22/2010 - DULUTH, Minn -- Master Sgt Mark W Watczak is still modest about the high honor he just recently received But those that work with him say his commitment to excellence and willingness to go above and beyond is just two of the reasons he was named Military Fire Fighter of the Year by the Air National Guard Fire Chief's Association

"Sgt Watczak takes the utmost pride in providing the highest quality service to the Duluth Air National Guard," wrote Col Penny J Dieryck, 148th Mission Support Group Commander, in the award nomination letter "Everyday his service to the nation, state, and his community is evident from his commitment to excel in all he does"

A 20 year veteran of the 148th Fighter Wing, Sgt Watczak's bravery and skill is apparent in all that he does "The 148th Fire Department consistently excels because of the leadership and guidance of Sgt Watczak," stated Dieryck

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During the 2009 Operational Readiness Inspections, Sgt Watczak was recognized as having an "Excellent" command presence and working knowledge of the Incident Command System He also serves as the 148th Fire Protection's fitness monitor, leading the department by receiving the maximum 100 points on his fitness evaluation and encouraging others, resulting in 25% scoring 90 points or higher and 12% scoring 100

In addition to his duties at the 148th Fighter Wing, Master Sgt Watczak serves as a full-time firefighter for the City of Richfield, Minn Sgt Watczak was recognized by the City of Richfield Fire Department for his bravery in saving the life of a trapped woman in a burning vehicle During the Nov 29, 2009 incident, Sgt Watczak selflessly entered the burning, smoke filled vehicle, using his body to shield her unconscious body from the flames while freeing her from her seatbelt and rescuing her from the car Because of his life-saving efforts, Sgt Watczak was awarded a Meritorious Service Award

"Being recognized is definitely an honor," said Sgt Watczak "But it's not just about me It's about my crew and about my unit It's our job and we do the best we can do"

Posted 11/22/2010   Updated 11/22/2010
by 2nd Lt Jodi L Kiminski
148th Fighter Wing

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