FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- When you spend your whole military career striving to be the best silent professional you can be, it's only natural to carry that same mindset over to everything else that follows retirement.Joseph Ward, a military analyst at U.S. Army Special Operations Command's G9 division, retired after 32 years of active duty service in 2010. Ward's service, however, didn't stop with being a Soldier, nor does it stop with USASOC.Ward serves his community as a volunteer firefighter, EMS and as a reserve deputy sheriff in Cumberland County.
With the recent threat of Hurricane Florence, it's not surprising to find harrowing stories of courageous individuals like Ward still risking their lives for their country and community."It's that whole aspect of strive to be the best professional that you can be, and working to better yourself, your community and the nation," Ward said.He attributes his selfless service, drive and work ethic to his father and northeastern puritan upbringing. "It was driven into us, you have to strive to be the best, and there are no free hand-outs in life. If you want it then you have to go out and get it," Ward said.When the impending devastation of Hurricane Florence was set to hit the North Carolina area, Ward and his fellow first responders were put into action."As a member of the Westarea volunteer fire department, a lot of time, effort and energy was put into making sure that we were ready for a natural disaster. Our fire department did an excellent job responding to the needs of the community. And I'm proud to be associated with them," Ward said.The flooding and subsequent damage that hit the community was catastrophic. In anticipation for a hurricane of Florence's size, the Cumberland County Fire Department was reinforced with boat teams, swift water rescue teams and Soldiers from the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps."There was no reason to go home, we lost power just like everybody else. So I would just stay at the fire department and sleep on a rack. My whole focus became running calls, running the command center, taking care of walk-ins and handing out water," Ward said.With the entire southeastern sea board under siege for 5 days, logistical and manning coordination for rescue operations became a no fail mission."It fell on our shoulders to take care of the whole northeast portion of the county. So we came up with a plan of action, which stations would respond based on the availability of roads and bridges. It became a very dynamic fluid situation that you needed to stay on top of," Ward said.Cumberland County is still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, but due to the forward thinking and preplanning of Ward and his team, tragedy on a larger scale was averted.