“Being able to save lives, to me, is one of the greatest feelings.”
These words come from Private 1st Class David Berarducci, a firefighter stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, whose parent unit, the 36th Engineer Brigade, is out of Fort Hood, Texas.
His route to the Army led him to a fateful day on January 12, 2022, where his new career put him in a lifesaving position.
Berarducci is from McDonald, Ohio, with a population of just over 3,000 people, and he joined the Army in 2020 to become a firefighter to help pay for college. He also wanted to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps, who also served. His mother’s friend is a recruiter, and it wasn’t long after high school before he was off to basic training.
He spent 13 weeks in school learning different firefighting skills, and it was an evening call not long ago that put those skills to the test.
“We got the call around 6 p.m.,” said Berarducci, who is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 562nd Firefighting Detachment, 5th Engineer Battalion. “We were the third truck on the scene. I was the nozzle man. I immediately jumped in line…”
A residential structure was ablaze.
Berarducci and his team started conducting search patterns. They found a child inside, hiding under a couch. After bringing the child to the paramedics outside, Berarducci and his team continued fighting the fire. Although two individuals including the child were removed from the structure, one did not make it.
It was a hard loss for the young firefighter, however, his fellow teammates and friends reached out to make sure he was okay.
“They did an awesome job of checking in and making sure I was ok,” he said. “I could not be more grateful.”
Berarducci was recognized by the III Armored Corps Commander, Lt. Gen. Pat White, in a recent report, naming him the “III Armored Corps Soldier of the Week.”
As for the firefighter from the small Ohio town, he said he’s grateful for the team he has and the people he has met.
“Building that connection is one of the most amazing things,” Berarducci said. “You meet some amazing people. I really want to thank all of my NCOs and civilians because they take their time to help on and off duty.”
Berarducci gave a special thanks to Sgt. DeMetry Hardister, Sgt. Mike Gonzales, Sgt. Shawn Williams, Cpl. Rex Lord, and Cpl. Brian Garcia.