MERRILL - For 32 years Battalion Chief Mike Drury walked into the Merrill Fire Department ready to save lives. Friday he walked out of the department for the last time to start the new phase of his life.
Story By Phylicia Ashley
"It goes fast it goes really fast," said Drury.
Drury was about 18 -years -old when he walked into the Merrill Fire Department for the first time.
"When you're 18, 19,20 years old and you're looking at 50 something years old you think you're never going to get there," said Drury.
Drury is one of 184 firefighters to ever work full time with the city of Merrill.
"As a firefighter they spend a lot of time at the fire house so they miss a lot of things," said Drury's daughter Cassi.
After 32 years of missing birthdays, holidays and family time Drury was ready for a change.
"I realized I had enough this is a young man's job," said Drury.
Friday afternoon Drury said goodbye to a room of men who merged and became family.
"Not having that is a little scary I know they'll always be our family but it's hard to leave," said Cassi.
Cassi watched her dad rush off to help his community since the day she was born.
"It's scary because you hear about the times things don't go right or the times fire fighters don't come home," said Cassi.
At Drury's retirement ceremony Cassi and the rest of the Drury family cried for what they're all leaving behind and smiled for what's to come.
"More relaxation more family time, being able to do what I want when I want," said Drury.
Drury's remembered for his heroism during Merrill's 2011 tornado, delivering three babies and his dedication to his city.
Drury's served under six mayors, five fire chiefs, and 58 different fire fighters.
However, after years of dedication, helping improve technology, and investing in the community, he realized once that badge went on in 1986 it never really gets taken off.
"The effort you put into something is the effort you're going to get out of it," said Drury.
For Cassi Friday meant, getting her dad back full time and letting go of memories she's held onto for 26 years.
"Remembering him coming home from a really difficult call and just him coming in the bedroom and hugging us," said Cassi.
The biggest change Drury said he's seen while serving the is technology and the need for active shooter training. Drury and wife plan on moving closer to their two daughters in Fox Lake.