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Firedawg’s dad watches graduation from Iraq

Col. Merrily Madero, 17th Training Wing vice commander, pins a fire protection badge on Airman Basic Jessica Morehouse during a special graduation ceremony Feb. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Angela Malek)

Col. Merrily Madero, 17th Training Wing vice commander, pins a fire protection badge on Airman Basic Jessica Morehouse during a special graduation ceremony Feb. 14. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Angela Malek)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Graduation is a time of triumph and celebration for the technical training students at Goodfellow Air Force Base, and like many celebrations, Airmen invite family and friends to see them move forward from training status and into the active Air Force.

However, Airman Basic Jessica Morehouse, a recent graduate of the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy, wasn't able to have her father come to Goodfellow - Airman Morehouse's father, like many other servicemembers, is deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Army Sergeant 1st Class Carl Morehouse, a combat engineer deployed to Iraq as the acting first sergeant for the 479th Engineer Battalion, didn't miss his daughter's graduation after all. The 17th Training Wing staff and the 479 ENG Bn were able to set up a video teleconference, letting the Soldier see Col. Merrily Madero, 17 TRW vice commander, pin on his Airman daughter's fire protection badge.

"They surprised me at graduation," Airman Morehouse said, smiling. "My dad knew it was coming, but he didn't think he'd be able to see it in real time - they woke him up in his PT gear." Sergeant Morehouse said he was also surprised by the ceremony.

"I knew I would be seeing her graduate in some form, but the pinning they did with her was very special and personal," he said.

"I've been a single parent and Jessica has lived with me for the last five years. We're stationed near Sather Air Base and I work with firefighters all the time; I've been keeping them updated on her progress through the academy. They were interested in how she was doing."

"It was great to see her in uniform, with several of my fellow Soldiers in the room," Sergeant Morehouse said. "It was one of the proudest moments of my life, especially after knowing what arduous training she went through to earn that firedawg badge. I want to thank the Air Force and all those involved for making it a very special day for me, especially in Iraq," he added.

Airman Morehouse said she's wanted to be a firefighter since her sophomore year of high school.

"I wanted a fun job, and not only fun but a job where I could help people," she said.

As to that arduous training, "You just have to love it; you have to want it," Airman Morehouse said. "If you do, you'll find whatever it takes. You just have to know you can do it."