After 33 years as a 908th firefighter, chief hangs up the hose

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jay Ponder
  • 908th Airlift Wing
Who hasn't dreamed of being a fireman when they grow up? How about becoming a fireman and not only serving your community, but serving your country at the same time?

Chief Master Sergeant Joseph Spraggins, 908th Airlift Wing Fire Chief, has achieved that dream.

Growing up with 11 brothers and sisters in Bessemer, Ala., he credits his success to his siblings' support as well as that of the mentors he's had in the Air Force throughout his long career.

As his retirement neared, Spraggins explained how serving in the 908th has expanded his view of the world as a result of the people he's encountered and the many locations to which he's been.

"My career with the 908th has allowed me to grow and mature as a person and build lifelong relationships with people I would have never met if I had not been a part of this unit," he said. "It has provided me the opportunity to expand my view of the world as a result of the places I have traveled over the years."

Spraggins, who has been a member of the 908th his entire 33-year career - all as a firefighter - and seen so many changes, described how the wing had grown by leaps and bounds.

"When I first got here, there were typewriters on a few people's desks and now there are computers everywhere," he said. "Most Airmen years ago were older and had been in the wing a long time. Now, I see a much younger group of Airmen."

The chief, whose eldest son is in the Army and currently deployed to Afghanistan, advised young Airmen to make a commitment to the wing and look long-term at the benefits and rewards that await them at the end.

"It is very easy to focus on right now without thinking about the long term possibilities and lifelong friends you make over time by staying the course," he explained.

While looking forward to retirement with his wife, Lynn, Spraggins, who retired from the State of Alabama in 2005 as an administrator with Medicaid, said he plans to keep practicing the work ethic he learned from his dad by seeking more opportunities for achievement by volunteering at the VA.

He closed by remarking on how rewarding it has been working with his firefighting Airmen.

"I have enjoyed being part of this elite brotherhood of firefighters."