Meet the Firefighter: Senior Forest Ranger Danny Callahan

GLADES COUNTY — Senior Ranger Danny Callahan was born in Fort Myers in 1972, and later his family moved to Ragland, Ala. He and his brother and sister attended Ragland High School, where he said his favorite subject was history, but he could definitely have lived without math. His favorite sport was football, and he explained that in the small town of Ragland, there was only one event the town participated in on a Friday night, and that was the high school football game. Ranger Callahan did his part by playing the trombone in the marching band. “Those were some good times,” he laughed.

He was very active in school, participating in the Alpha Beta Club and the Pep Club, and his favorite thing about school was spending time with his friends. If only he didn’t have to wait for the bus, he said, it would have been perfect.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Florida Forest Service Senior Ranger Danny Callahan, who works out of the FFS tower in Palmdale, manned an informational booth at the Buckhead Ridge Catfish Festival in January.

Ranger Callahan considers his grandparents to have been his childhood heroes. He said that while growing up he was fortunate enough to have been able to visit both sets of grandparents, and during his youth, he considered it a blessing, a salvation to be able to visit them every weekend. Both of his grandfathers served their country proudly — one as a Marine and the other in the Army. Ranger Callahan followed in their footsteps right out of high school, one of three cousins to do so. Of the three who joined, one served in the Navy, one in the Army and Ranger Callahan in the Army National Guard. All three of them have now retired from the service.

In the Army National Guard, he specialized in field artillery, and of all the enlisted positions held in the artillery, he enjoyed howitzer section chief the most. “Commanding our six-person howitzer gun crew through training and missions to operate, transport and maintain a howitzer is the most high-speed adrenaline rush around!” he said. As Army National Guard soldiers, they were also responsible for the needs of the local state government. During his 21 years, he responded to every governor-declared emergency in Florida.

He said that as a soldier from Florida, when he served his two tours in Afghanistan, one of the most memorable things was that the weather was horrible, and it was very challenging calling home due to the different time zones. He said it was an adventure worth taking, although some missions were pretty rough. He was able to meet some fine local people. His last tour was in Kuwait in 2010, and he felt it was not a bad final tour before retiring in 2011.

Becoming a forest ranger was not something Ranger Callahan had dreamed of as a child. He actually thought he would go into telecommunications like the rest of his family. He said it was his wife Lisa’s idea that he become a state wildland firefighter. She found the position on the Florida jobs (People First) website; he liked the idea and applied. He has been in the position for 14 years and eight months, and he has been in Glades County for 12 years. His favorite part of the job is the traveling.

Ranger Callahan and his wife have been married 18 years and have one child. He says he knew she was the right one for him because she stuck around through his deployments and training. They moved to Muse, in western Glades, soon after they got married and he joined on as a volunteer with the Muse Volunteer Fire Department. In his spare time, he enjoys riding his Harley Ultra Classic and his Suzuki Boulevard. A big project close to his heart is Operation Outdoor Freedom, which provides wounded veterans with the outdoor activities they enjoy at no cost. For almost a decade, he has co-organized, along with the Glades County Public Safety Department, local adventures to service-connected disabled veterans.

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