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Waiting for the Big One: John Armstrong, '10

by Ryan Grusenski, '03

During a Prep man’s career, one is introduced to many different environments, form the ancient gates of Troy in the Latin classroom, to the salsa floor of a Spanish-speaking country, still onwards to the doorstep of the corrugated tin houses of those the Prep community serves on service immersion trips. Very rarely in a Prep student's career is he asked to step into something as destructive as a fire, but then again, that’s what gets John Armstrong going. “I’m waiting for the big one.”

Fortunately for him, John’s home town of Chatham has not had many "big ones" in his still-short career as a member of Chatham’s volunteer fire department. Two young men of his parish provided the impetus for him to join, train and eventually become a member of the volunteer squad. 
 
When asked why he does it, he spoke of the values he saw in his older friends who were also volunteers. They were bold enough to put their lives on the line to protect others, and for John, there is no there is no other job that is more straightforward, that is to train to save a life. He also mentioned the joy he feels when among the volunteers. Similar to a feeling he gets when around his own Prep brethren, there is a distinct brotherhood when everyone is there and present in saving a house, part of an environment, or maybe even a chance to save a life, when the big one comes along.