John Whittenburg, born in 1880 in a covered wagon, went to work at age fourteen earning his own living. In 1904, at age twenty-four, he was hired by the Fort Worth, Texas fire department because of his ability to handle horses and the horse drawn fire wagon. His leadership qualities led to promotions. His integrity led to being highly respected by his peers and community. John retired in 1947, as Battalion Chief after 43 years of service. In 1972, he was again honored as the oldest living fireman at age ninty-two. The information from his original Chief's log, when he opened #12 fire station, along with family history, pictures and newspaper articles are woven together with fictitious dialogue. John's story takes place when the fire department had no formal training. The men learned as they fought the fires. Anyone interested in history, true stories, biographies or firefighters will enjoy reading Duty-Honor-Courage.
Having known Mr. Whittenburg in my childhood, I was delighted to read this book about his life. All I knew then was that he was very tall, a fire chief, and loved little kids. It's been such a joy to read about his whole life, as well as to learn about the development of fire fighting science. Even as a youngster, I perceived that he was laid back, gentle and persuasive, traits that took him from a hopeless future of dirt farming to a fulfilling career, in which he taught by example and insightful explanation and inspired hundreds of individuals to be their best selves. There's always someone who trains and teaches the rest. Mr. Whittenburg's ability to put the science of fire fighting into a curriculum for others belies his fourth grade education. Thanks to Janie for bringing this story to us.