By Capt. Abigail Peterson| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.
It is no secret that there are heroes among the residents and personnel aboard Camp Pendleton. Some have fought in harsh battles, some are shining stewards to their community and some are not Marines but first responders and firefighters who wage a different battle in the hot summer months aboard the Southern California installation.
Camp Pendleton firefighter Grant DeRose is part of Fire Station 8 on Camp Pendleton. He has worked for the Camp Pendleton Fire Department for four years among many Marine veterans who also serve as firefighters on base.
On July 9, 2019, Station 8 responded to a call of a vegetation fire near range 300. When they arrived on scene, they realized the fire was rapidly spreading up First Sergeant’s Hill, a treasured site on base where Marines with 1st Marine Division memorialize their fallen brothers and sisters.
“My Captain was coming up the hill and yelled to grab the hose. We couldn’t get the rig close to the fire and the hose stopped about 100 feet short of the memorial,” said DeRose.
With flames starting to singe a tattered American flag hanging from one of the memorials, he had to think quickly. The flag would have sustained damage if he removed it from the site.
“I improvised and wrapped the flag up in my arms and turned my back to the flames,” said DeRose.
As he protected the flag, his squad, comprised of many Marine veterans, fought the flames using hand tools and were able to protect the memorial.
Sherri Hutton, an administrator with the Fire Department who shared the photo of DeRose’s brave act, was not surprised.
“Many of our firefighters are former Marines who know that the memorial is sacred ground for those who have served,” said Hutton. “He put himself between the flames and the flag in an act of unwavering patriotism, American spirit and respect for those who serve.”
The photo of DeRose has gone viral on social media, lauding many messages of gratitude for his service.
“I don’t think I’m a hero,” said DeRose. “I really was just doing my job. I love helping out and working on the base to give back to the Marines and their families for what they do for us.”