"We used to say we are the largest fraternity in the world, and it's true."
Chris Hanson was searching for that camaraderie when he got out of the Marines. He found it at the Champaign Fire Department. He's an engineer at Fire Station 5.
"It's one of the best jobs in the world. How many people get paid to help other people out?"
Fighting on the front lines laid the groundwork for Hanson to be Firefighter of the Year. He was a gunner in Desert Storm and says, being a Marine for ten years, taught him a lot.
"I believe in all the values military instills in you. I believe it's a great organization and teaches you a lot of stuff. It's given me skills that I will use the rest of my life; dedication, integrity, honesty, initiative. Those are all things the Marine Corps taught me are important, and those are things you need to be a firefighter too."
But, Hanson still balances both roles. He's part of the Fire Department Honor Guard and member of the local Marine Corps League, honoring his brothers on both sides.
"Rather than giving back to my country, I'm giving back to my local community."
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