Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King in Afghanistan. Contributed photo

Clark County fire chief recognized for service in Afghanistan

A Clark County fire chief who deployed to Afghanistan as a civilian for more than a year was recently recognized at the Ohio Statehouse for his service.

Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King returned from overseas in February. He’s also the fire chief at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and through his job there, he had the opportunity to deploy to Afghanistan.

“It was a great opportunity for me to help citizens in another country and support the United States Department of Defense,” King said.

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While in Afghanistan, King said he was in charge of U.S. and NATO fire protection forces throughout the country. He made sure bases were prepared to fight fires.

“Making sure they had the correct equipment, to have enough water to put out an aircraft and respond to any bases in Afghanistan,” he said.

Fighting fires in Afghanistan is much different than at home, he said.

“It’s not like the United States where you can pretty much go to any town … and call for a fire department,” he said. “There is no system like that. So when our bases are out there, they stand alone. So they have to be able to support and sustain themselves.”

He also worked with the Afghanistan Ministry of Defense and Interior, he said, as a fire and disaster response adviser.

“We try to develop key programs for them to take care of their own people,” King said.

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King was recognized last week on the floor of the Statehouse by state Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield. King received the Joint Civilian Service Commendation Medal for his service.

King oversaw, “the training of over 600 firefighters and the health and safety of over 20,000 U.S. personnel,” Koehler said in a statement.

“He has sacrificed time for the things he loves to serve the country he loves,” Koehler said on the floor.

Serving in Afghanistan was a rewarding experience, King said, that taught him lessons he’ll take back to his job on base and in Bethel Twp.

“It’s nice to come back and say, ‘OK, I know why you do what you do and I see why you actually make an impact,’” he said.

And he has a new appreciation for the work done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base since he’s returned home.

“I really saw the cradle to grave programs here at Wright-Patterson Air Force base in action in a war-torn country,” he said. “They were the key backbone to making those operations work.”

He couldn’t have served without the support of his wife and six children, he said.

“It makes me grateful to know that I’m an American,” he said. “That’s for sure.”

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