Firefighters share a bond unlike those of many other occupations or callings in today’s world. They don’t work an eight-hour day. Some spend up to 48 hours in a row before they leave what becomes their second home and their second family.
Their bond is more than just that of the profession itself. It is a very special calling which is difficult to explain by words alone.
Although hard to explain, it was fully on display on Saturday, November 2, when “the family” came together to congratulate one of its own as he was honored by his peers on his retirement from the profession, chosen almost 24 years ago when he entered the fire service.
Ray Ladurini walked through the doors of the Marco Island Fire Rescue Department as a veteran of the United States Air Force, putting on another uniform for just shy of 24 years, while keeping his love for his country and his Air Force uniform still hanging in his closet for the next 24 years as a reservist with the Air Force.
Saturday evening was one of celebration for the quiet and reserved Ladurini, as his “second family” came out to honor him at a local gathering spot. The refreshments, food and stories filled the room, as did the respect and admiration for the man they had served with. Firefighters and police officers alike joined in to wish Ladurini well.
Retirement was not something sought by Ladurini, but was thrust upon him after an automobile accident that left him unable return to full duty in the profession he came to love. Ladurini had his foot/ankle seriously injured as a result of an auto accident which was not his fault. Physicians were not able to certify him to return to the high-stress physical environment of a first responder.
The Marco Island City Council honored him with a proclamation in October for his service to the community and to the nation. Ladurini had been reactivated for service twice during his time as a Reservist with the Air Force. The first time for seven months during Desert Storm, when he was stationed in Saudi Arabia and the second activation was in support of Iraqi Freedom, when he spent another six months in Iraqi itself in 2010. Ladurini would retire from the Air Force as a Senior Master Sergeant just a few years ago.
Time and time again his fellow firefighters came forward to compliment Ladurini’s commitment to the job and to his fellow firefighters as they would present him with tokens of their appreciation for his dedication to the job and his “family,” as they raised a toast to the brother they will miss.