Pa. Firefighters Give Veteran Colleague Surprise Honor

March 18, 2013
Gene Mohn was on the Mohnton Fire Department for 48 years, serving 22 of those years as fire chief. Recently, his former crew members recognized his service.

March 18--Gene Mohn, like so many little boys, wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up.

When he saw the engines fly by his Mohnton home, he'd hop on his bicycle and follow them to the flames. Then he'd watch his heroes work.

"As I grew older, it just stayed with me," said Mohn, now 66. "I followed firetrucks even when I was 16, 17."

So, as he neared adulthood, Mohn joined the junior firefighters in Mohnton. And then he stuck around for 48 years.

Mohnton firefighters honored Mohn's service to the department at a recent borough council meeting by surprising him with a plaque.

Mohn, who works on the borough road crew, retired from the fire department two years ago. He held many leadership positions, including a 22-year turn as chief.

"When we thought back and looked at the amount of time that this man gave to his (fire) company and his community, we just thought this was something we wanted to recognize," said Mohnton Fire Chief Allen Detwiler. "His dedication is a mark to this company that will last a long time."

Those who served under Mohn when he was chief described him as dedicated and understanding.

"If you needed him, he was there," said John Stuebner, a retired firefighter who's now a member of the borough fire police.

Mohn would make sure a firefighter knew it if he was doing something wrong, Stuebner said. But he always confronted problems in a constructive way so the firefighter would learn from the mistake but not feel attacked, he said.

It was that attitude that made Mohn a well-liked chief, said Dave Szilli, a current firefighter.

"He was always a very easygoing kind of guy," Szilli said.

Mohn said it was important to him that he not ask his firefighters to do anything he wouldn't do himself. He would often work alongside of them in training sessions.

"I feel you gain a little respect from your peers if you're going to do what they do," he said.

Mohn said he was surprised by the presentation at the council meeting, which he was tricked into attending because council members told him they wanted to discuss snow removal with the road crew.

"I really felt good," Mohn said. "It was a long time, a lot of hard work and hours and things like that. A lot of sacrifice."

Contact Liam Migdail-Smith: 610-371-5022 or [email protected].

Copyright 2013 - Reading Eagle, Pa.

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!