Military Service to Fire Service
From rebel to American hero
A self-proclaimed “rebel”, Chris Kurowski failed his senior year of high school. Words of wisdom from his Grandfather moved him to action. Chris shares, “My Grandfather’s dying wish was that I return to high school and get my diploma, so I did.”
After graduation in 2001, and unsure of his next steps, Chris enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves. He was about to board the bus for boot camp when the September 11 attacks occurred. With his departure delayed, he knew his world was about to change.
Not one but three tours of duty
After basic training in Ft. Benning, Georgia, Chris completed “Advanced Individual Training” and became a Motor Transport Operator. He continued his commitment as a Reservist by serving one weekend a month and two full weeks during the year.
In 2003 Chris received orders to go to Iraq. “I wasn’t scared, I was kind of excited,” he said.
Chris served three tours of duty in Iraq. He earned two Bronze Stars and a Combat Action Badge. Chris shared, “It turns out, I ended up being pretty good soldier.”
On one mission, Chris observed a crash involving civilian casualties. Lifesaving skills and medical training helped him save the life of one of the civilians. This experience lead him down an unexpected path.
Between his first and second deployment, Chris married his hometown sweetheart Ashley. He also made the decision to pursue a career in fire service, enrolling in the Ohio Fire Academy.
He longed for the structure and brotherhood in fire service he enjoyed in the military. Half way through, he was called back to Iraq.
Chris’ third tour was the most difficult. With a wife and two beautiful daughters at home (and one on the way), it was even more difficult to return to service. “It’s more than just you,” he said. It was during this tour, Chris earned his second Bronze Star.
The Brotherhood of Fire Service
Chris landed a full-time position with Pleasant Township FD in Grove City, Ohio. His best friend signed up for the Certified Rescue Technician program through the Bowling Green State University State Fire School. Not one to be outdone, Chris decided to join him.
He hoped to use his GI Bill to pay his tuition, but learned the program didn’t qualify for reimbursement. Chris was devastated until he heard about a scholarship. A grant from State Farm® provided the scholarship. Chris went to training and earned his Certified Rescue Technician designation in August 2016.
“This training surpassed any expectations I had. Rescue Tech School is a high intensity hands on training. It helps you understand the why behind the decision,” Chris shared. “I want to be prepared when I get to the scene of a fire or crash. The worst feeling is not knowing what to do.”
Throughout his life, Chris has lived by one motto, "Put yourself in the position to be the best." He continues to surround himself with the best. His wife Ashley, and daughters Annabelle (eight), Stella (seven), and Gigi (four). And his new family at the Pleasant Township Fire Department.