John McGraw and his family were escorted from their home to the fire station in high style by fellow firefighters. Members of the Amboy Fire Department and other visiting firefighters stood at attention as the family entered the station for the ceremony to begin.
Monetta Young/Amboy News
AMBOY — Family, friends and fellow fire fighters gathered Sunday afternoon to celebrate the retirement of Assistant Chief John C. McGraw from the Amboy Fire Department.
McGraw and his family were escorted from their home to the fire station in high style by fellow firefighters. Members of the Amboy Fire Department and other visiting firefighters stood at attention as the family entered the station for the ceremony to begin.
State representative Daniel Swanson addressed the crowd and thanked McGraw for his more than 25 years of service to the department. Noting that in spite of all the awards that were displayed on the board, the rest of the story lays behind the scenes.
“Firefighters are called to sacrifice family time, holidays and other events when they are on duty,” said Swanson. “No one knows the sacrifice that families make when their loved one serves.”
Other guests to speak included former Illinois State Representative Don Moffit, Mercy Healthsystems Ron Meadors, and Amboy Assistant Fire Chiefs Scott Wittenauer, Duane Dickinson and Tracy Fleming. Members of the Amboy Fire Protection District presented a trophy to McGraw in recognition of his service.
Amboy Fire Chief Jeff Bryant also thanked McGraw for his selfless service and expressed how much he would miss him.
“Even though he hasn’t died,” said Bryant. “John told me he wanted his retirement reception to be held the same hours as a visitation would be, 2 – 4 p.m.”
McGraw accomplished many milestones during his career as a firefighter, EMT, fire instructor at Sauk Valley Community College, fire investigator and more. A dedicated firefighter who upheld the Amboy Fire Department’s mission statement: “Our mission is to protect the lives and preserve the property of all citizens of Amboy, their guests, and travelers coming through our community, in the most professional, courteous, and efficient manner possible.”
It goes without saying that McGraw has touched many lives during his more than 25 years with the department, the man who was running in as the victims were running out, the man who always gave 100 percent of his loyalty to his department. The best friend to many of the fellow firefighters on the Amboy Department and highly respected by the firefighters in the surrounding communities. A man of courage, honor and valor. A firefighter who has seen it all, devastation from tornados, fires and more.
“The fire department is more like a family to me,” said McGraw. “I don’t really know which direction I will be going after this, but I hope to stay in public service since that is all I have known.”
McGraw says that former Amboy firefighters Bill Haws and Mike Koppien were influential in his decision to become a fireman at the age of 19.
“I will still be working with the department working with instructional classes for the men. I just won’t be on the day to day calls,” McGraw said. “We are a very close group of people and I think it will stay that way.”
Working with the youth and helping them to become dedicated to the cause has been a great pleasure to me. “It’s all to help others,” he said.
Toward the end of the presentation, a final tone came into the room:
"All companies standby for a district-wide broadcast - Attention Amboy Fire Protection District, Assistant Chief John McGraw - Be advised, this is your last alarm. From your brothers, sisters, and all of the Fire Protection District, thank you Assistant Chief McGraw for 25 years of service and good luck on your retirement." KEO-340.