Retired Mansfield fire captain Robert Rettig boarded a town fire truck on Tuesday afternoon with a little help.
After all, he is 89 years old.
Outside Primrose Retirement Community, the former captain, who served the city fire department from October 23, 1963 to February 5, 1988, pushed his walker aside and was ready to go when he was told said he was going for a walk.
With iPhones and cameras flashing, people waving and clapping, Rettig was off for the ride.
Surprise ride in a fire truck
The Southerncare Hospice team threw the surprise “fire party” for the retired fire captain.
Mansfield firefighters took him for a ride in what Rettig described as a much smoother ride than he had while on duty.
Residents and onlookers cheered as Rettig heard the news of the ride.
Retired fire captain served in the US Navy
Rettig’s son, Mick Rettig, was emotional as he watched his father leave the Millsboro Road property for a ride.
Tuesday’s event for Rettig was part of SouthernCare Hospice’s wish-list program called the Dream Keeper Program.
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Mick Rettig was happy to talk about his father.
Robert Rettig graduated from Mansfield Senior High School in 1951 and served in the United States Navy.
Mick said his father still works part-time in addition to his job at the fire station.
“My (late) mom kept a scrapbook, everything that happened in the fire department when it started until the end,” her son said.
His son said his father drove a snorkel.
“When he started, he drove the back of the old hook and ladder,” his son said.
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Robert Rettig, 2 others, saved a man’s life on March 15, 1964
Robert Rettig and two other firefighters saved a man’s life on March 15, 1964 and all three firefighters received special commendation for meritorious service, Mick Rettig said, sharing the article.
The headline of the Mansfield News Journal for March 16, 1964 read: “Firefighter rushes through flames, saves man’s life. Pulls unconscious victim from home”.
“…Rettig, outfitted in a smoke mask and drenched by fellow firefighters, rushed through the flames to search for McQuade,” the News Journal article said.
“As Rettig reappeared with the unconscious Clarence McQuade, Captain Charles Hunt and firefighter Dean Scott began manual rescue breathing and administered oxygen from the inhaler…” the article continued. “At the same time, the resuscitator was ordered and used while McQuade was rushed to hospital by the Mansfield Ambulance Service.
“It was one of the best teamwork firefighting jobs I’ve seen in a long time,” Hunt said in the article.
“I’m just very proud of him,” his son said. Mick Rettig said he wanted to thank everyone for the special day for his father from the Mansfield and Primrose Fire Department at Southern Care Hospice and the Mansfield Fire Department Museum.
Upon returning to Primrose Retirement Community, Robert Rettig was all smiles.